Twenty years ago, few would have imagined any politician appealing to a large audience talking about cannabis, even less speaking in favor of its legalization. But the times, they are a’changing: we all watched in awe as voters in Colorado and Washington were the first to make cannabis a legal plant for adults. Now even conservative politicians are putting their fingers to the global pulse and realizing that marijuana is and has been a social reality and healing boon for quite some time. With the growing body of evidence of marijuana’s beneficial medical uses and the catastrophic carceral consequences and general costs of the War on Drugs, discussions in even the most unexpected of political circles show signs of a more thoughtful approach to what marijuana means today.
Kentucky Republican Rand Paul and two Oregon Senators are cosponsoring a bill with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would open the door for hemp cultivation. New Yorkers found in possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer spend time in jail, instead appearing in court at a later date. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stood in support of this act for freeing up law enforcement officers and resources for more dangerous and urgent situations.
Needless to say, 2013 is showing signs of being quite a momentous year for proponents of the now-felonious plant’s re-classification. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), at least four proposals or acts concerning marijuana are currently under consideration in congress, while state legislative measures to decriminalize or legalize medical marijuana are in different stages of review in 26 states.
Even if these do not all pass, they will start a dialogue that has been necessary but quite tricky for too long. The fact that congress is even considering the Support the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act is revolutionary on its own. This is especially true for states like California that have seen federal raids of dispensaries dismantle facilities that promote the safe cultivation of medical cannabis, as in the example of the famed Oaksterdam in Oakland. In North America’s political climate, any discussion across partisan boundaries is remarkable. If all goes well, the changes some of these acts might entail could mean one day being able to see a republican and a democrat sharing a (legal) brownie and (no pun intended) hashing out their differences.
By: Kelsey Westphal