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Legal Marijuana: It's Coming, Whether You Like it or Not

Submitted by smorgan on

Paul Armentano has an exciting summary of various marijuana reform legislation, initiatives, etc. that are moving forward around the country. Meanwhile, The Washington Post had a report Monday entitled Support for legalizing marijuana grows rapidly around U.S., celebrating the issue's forward momentum in terms of public opinion and political victories.

Looking around the room, it seems we've moved beyond the question of whether marijuana reform is possible, and everyone seems to be asking instead when the breakthrough will occur or what form it will take. And no, I don't think there's anything misplaced or unhealthy about this sudden sense of inevitability. Time has always been on our side and optimism is a very necessary virtue in the fight for social and political change.

A wise colleague (I think it was this guy) recently suggested to me that we should stop introducing our arguments with phrases like "if marijuana were legal…" and instead say, "when marijuana is legal…" and he's exactly right. One of our greatest obstacles has always been a widespread lack of faith that our politicians and fellow citizens would ever stand with us in great enough numbers to create a mandate for reform. That simple assumption stops untold numbers of potentially great activists dead in their tracks before they ever sign up for an email list, send a letter to the editor, or make a small donation. It also helps explain why the press spent decades fueling anti-drug hysteria and investing in the drug war doctrine, even after the case for reform had begun to bubble beneath the surface.

Yet, the instant that spell is broken, you get the opposite result. People you'd never heard of prior to this year are leading legalization efforts in California. Journalists you've known for decades are speaking out about drug policy reform for the first time in their careers. And the leaders of the drug war army are experimenting with new language to replace the failed propaganda that so profoundly discredited their predecessors.

So those who have a problem with legalizing marijuana should really consider doing everyone (including themselves) a favor and refrain from spending the next several years trying in vain to prevent this from taking place. It's going to happen one way or the other and it's going to work, because we're all going to make sure it works.

Ten years after marijuana legalization takes hold in America, almost everyone will agree that it's an improvement, and those who most vigorously opposed it will probably deny ever having done so.

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