The confirmation hearings of Jeff “good people don’t smoke marijuana” Sessions unearthed one nugget on which he and I agree. The senator from Alabama-cum-United States Attorney General proclaimed on Day 1 of his congressional vetting that, “One obvious concern is that Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state an illegal act. If that is not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change it.” He may have an attitude on the whole issue that makes me disinclined to listen to another single thing he ever says, but the guy has a point on this one.
I’m of the mindset that cannabis prohibition ranks among the most cunningly odious decisions made by those in power during the last century. First and foremost, it never should have happened. The reasons behind it include racial bias, desire to vilify and arrest groups who were political opponents to the establishment, and faulty science. The outcomes that have proceeded from these laws have included the strengthening of the prison industrial complex, our dangerous reliance on petroleum products and the denial of access to medicine to millions who could have benefited from it. It’s a dirty, dirty game.
The only proper resolution, in my mind, is the complete removal of any and all laws that govern its cultivation, distribution, and use. Treat it like tomatoes or basil or any other thing you can bury in the dirt, water, tend, and, when the season comes, reap and benefit from your loving labor. I’m a dreamer … I know, I know.
Here’s the reality: 44 states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of cannabis in some form. NORML classifies Texas’ statute as “non-functional” due to its provision calling for doctors to “prescribe” rather than “recommend” its use. Regardless, we are left with over 80 percent medical legality nationwide, according to the individual states. After the November elections, we now have eight states (and D.C.) that allow recreational use and Gallup polling from October 2016 registered an approval rating of 60 percent in favor of cannabis legalization. The only demographic within this poll that was not in statistical favor of legalization in any form was the 55-and-older crowd who came in at 45 percent in favor. Just to up the ante, a recently released Pew Research Center survey of 8,000 American law enforcement officers shows that nearly 70 percent are in favor of relaxing marijuana laws, with 32 percent in favor of legalization in both recreational and medical, and 37 percent in favor legalization for medical use only.
At the end of the day, though, these numbers aren’t worth a bagseed. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is 100 percent correct: The way the laws are currently written, cannabis is completely and totally illegal on the federal level. The Cole Memo of 2013, as wishy-washy as it was, could turn out to be a high point in the fight for legal cannabis.
I present two options for us cannabis aficionados going forward. (1): Become more politically active; support your local NORML chapter, write and call your congressperson; hell, write and call every congressperson. They are the only ones who have the power to change the status quo. (2) Begin to educate yourself on guerrilla growing. That was the way things were done for a long time. If we are headed back in that direction, I will be here to help, mis amigos.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected]