Last year, residents of Colorado and the state of Washington voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Now, according to a new Gallup Poll, fully 58 percent of Americans believe that pot should be available in a way that’s similar to tobacco, beer, wine, and alcohol, which arguably cause more harm than marijuana. That’s a 10-point increase over last year and the latest indicator that the federal war on weed, which officially began in 1937, is finally drawing to a close. Given the directions things are headed in this country, here are eight things nobody will miss when pot is finally legal everywhere in the U.S.
1. Vapid anti-drug commercials like the famous “I learned it by watching you!” public-service announcement, in which a son tells an outraged father how he became familiar with pot. The dad seems to be successful and they’re in a nice house so….what’s the problem again?
2. Ritual apologies by world-class athletes such as swimmer Michael Phelps for smoking dope at a private party. Despite winning 14 Olympic gold medals and completely rewriting his sport’s record books, in 2009 Phelps promised his “fans and the public it will not happen again.”
3. Breath-taking personal hypocrisy by politicians such as Barack Obama who laugh about their own pot smoking (he’s not the only one, the last three presidents have tried it) while increasing funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other drug-war operations. As a presidential candidate, he joked to a gathering of fawning journalists, “When I was a kid, I inhaled….That was the point.”
4. Long federal prison sentences for legitimate business owners like Aaron Sandusky. He ran a medical marijuana dispensary in California that was in full compliance with state laws, but he still got busted by the Obama administration’s Justice Department and is now serving a 10-year stint.
5. Reading about politicians such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie brushing off parents whose children’s illnesses can be treated effectively with marijuana. Two-year-old Vivian Wilson’s Dravet’s Syndrome responds to a form of pot that doesn’t even get you high but is unavailable in New Jersey. When Wilson’s father asked Christie why he hadn’t implemented the medical marijuana reform already passed by the legislature, the governor huffed that “it’s simple for you, it’s not simple for me.”
6. Tendentious arguments that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Researchers long ago gave up on the idea that smoking pot inevitably – or even commonly – leads users to harder stuff. Yes, most heavy drug users have used pot. But most pot smokers never develop a taste for or a problem with other drugs.
7. The 658,000 arrests for simple possession of marijuana made annually. That’s equivalent to the population of Boston being handcuffed every year for carrying the wrong plant. What a waste of police resources – and an unconscionable disruption of people’s lives.
8. Hearing about no-knock drug raids gone tragically wrong, like the one in Atlanta that killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnson in 2006. After three cops broke into her home without identifying themselves, Johnson fired a gun in defense and was shot to death by the cops, who then planted three bags of marijuana in her residence to cover up their mistakes.
Legalizing pot won’t create a problem-free country any more than tearing down the Berlin Wall solved all the problems in East Germany or ending de jure segregation fixed race relations in the U.S. But it would reflect the will of an increasing number of citizens who realize the government has better things to do than tell us what we can and cannot put into our bodies. And it will also consign many terrible things about contemporary America to the dust heap of history.