Marijuana reform has become one of the most significant topics in recent US politics. For the first time in decades, national polls show that a majority of Americans (52% to be exact) support marijuana reform and believe that its use should be made legal. Over the past 15 years, we have witnessed the District of Columbia, as well as 17 other states (including Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) implement some manner of medical marijuana legislation. We have seen a revival of support for industrialized hemp, with Kentucky, North Dakota, Arizona, Virginia and West Virginia all exploring the potential value of hemp as a legitimate cash crop in our nation. We have seen a slue of states pass legislation to decriminalize marijuana, with Mississippi, Ohio, New York and the rest of the Northeast, leading the charge. In fact, there are over 30 states where legislation for marijuana reform has been introduced (in some manner) to reflect public distaste toward current federal laws. All of this, in the wake of the legalization bills passed in Colorado and Washington, strongly suggests that the United States is on the verge of a cultural revolution.
How will our Federal Government respond to this “new” revolution? This is the question that has reform advocates cowering in fear. Though the Obama administration has publicly stated that (in states where marijuana has been made legal) recreational users would not be made a “top priority,” there have been numerous altercations that suggest the revolution will not be met without resistance. Most of these events have included licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, which have been targeted by federal agencies operating under a federal law that currently allows prosecutors to penalize an individual with a five-year-to-life term in prison for the sale of marijuana. This presents a very dangerous risk to those who wish to operate under state laws and regulations, in areas where marijuana reform has gone into effect. This also shows a complete disregard for the desires of citizens who have voted for these changes within their particular regions.
Luckily, we have also seen the beginning of a revolution within Congress. Where showing support for any type of drug reform was once thought to be a career ender, politicians from all parties are forming bipartisan alliances in attempt to change current drug policies. Thus far, six bills have been introduced in the 113th Congress, two of which involve the topic of industrialized hemp, focusing on the use of cannabis as an agricultural resource. Other bills presented on the federal level focus on medical marijuana and the state’s right to tax, regulate and govern marijuana commerce as they see fit. A final bill to mention is House Bill 499 – Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, which would actually put an end to the prohibition on marijuana. Though these bills are highly unlikely to succeed in Congress, they clearly demonstrate the obvious change in both political and public opinion.
What lies ahead for the movement to end marijuana reform? In short, the road ahead looks promising but will require a lot of hard work and lobbying. More people need to take a stand and become vocal about their beliefs concerning current marijuana laws. Signing petitions is a small start but people must also contact state representatives and other public officials to let them know that they support this movement – whether that support be for economic, social or personal benefits or for the intrusion on our Constitutional rights.
Let others in the community know of your stance on marijuana prohibition and what the facts truly are. You must strive to demonstrate to shop owners, local merchants and the “average Joe” that the stigmas associated with the cannabis culture are founded on false propaganda and misguided stereotypes. Engage with the opposition and present them with educated facts and discussion, for only in the face of the truth will they find the answers.
From the pages of 13 Folds Magazine by Dave Sorgman, editor. 13folds.com.