Welcome to a New America
We wake to a changed nation. Right now the difference between America on November 7 and November 9, 2016, feels as profound as the soul-wrenching split between September 10 and September 12, 2001. It’s a rent in the fabric of time.
For those of us focused on the issue of cannabis legalization, last night’s ballot results came as a magnificent shock. Five states considered adult-use legalization, four voted on medical cannabis. At the time of writing, it looks that all but one—poor Arizona—approved those measures. Almost nobody saw that coming.
These states appear at this time to have approved regulated legalization: California (39 million people), Massachusetts (7 million), Nevada (3 million), and Maine (1 million). These states legalized medical cannabis: Florida (20 million), Arkansas (3 million), Montana (1 million), and North Dakota (750,000).
Those states represent a total population of 75 million people.
The passage of regulated legalization in Colorado and Washington in 2012 felt like a door opening, ever so slightly. The results of November 2016 blew that door off its hinges and into the next room.
Consider this: One in five Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal for adults 21 and older. One in five.
As President Obama remarked late last week:
“The Justice Department, DEA, FBI, for them to try to straddle and figure out how they’re supposed to enforce laws in some places and not in others, they’re going to guard against transporting these drugs across state lines – you’ve got the entire Pacific Corridor where this is legal. That is not going to be tenable.”
No, that is not going to be tenable. And unless the federal government decides to deploy the DEA and the FBI against twenty percent of the American population, federal prohibition will not stand. It cannot stand.
For eighty years, science and common sense have argued against the criminalization of cannabis. Now the American public stands against it.
There is a rational and relatively easy way for prohibition to end: Follow the alcohol precedent.