We only get this day once every four years, so let’s spend it with some good news. A second state, Colorado, has joined Washington state in giving its’ citizens the chance to vote for authorizing legal, recreational cannabis. “This could be a watershed year in the decades-long struggle to end marijuana prohibition in this country,” Art Way, Colorado manager of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. The Alliance supports the initiative. Way continued, “Marijuana prohibition is counterproductive to the health and public safety of our communities. It fuels a massive, increasingly brutal underground economy, wastes billions of dollars in scarce law enforcement resources, and makes criminals out of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens.”
The entrenched powers are already becoming irate. No states allow marijuana for recreational use, and California voters turned back a ballot initiative to legalize the drug for such use in 2010, in part because of concerns about how production and sale of the drug would be regulated. Since then, the U.S. Department of Justice has cracked down on medical cannabis operations in several mostly western states including Colorado and Washington, raiding dispensaries and growing operations and threatening landlords with prosecution. Nationally, we would benefit from a rational discussion about what the legal future of pot will look like.
A spokesman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said on Monday that the office opposes the legalization proposal. “The attorney general will oppose any measure that makes marijuana more accessible,” spokesman Mike Saccone said.
While resistance is not a surprise, the tide continues to rise on the important question of legalization. As Simon Cantarel, a French economics exchange student writes in the Oklahoma Daily, “when the Netherlands chose to legalize marijuana . . .many policy makers there believed it was better to try controlling it and reducing harm instead of continuing to enforce a ban with mixed results. Not only would this allow people to understand marijuana, through a real and comprehensive education, for instance, but it also would be the only way to insure good quality and a safe product.”
For more on the Colorado news, visit The Chicago Tribune.