What a difference a decade makes. In 2005 only California had well defined medical cannabis reforms on the books, thanks to the impact of the Gonzales v. Raich ruling which seemed to separate state and federal laws. Oakland's 2004 Proposition Z, which made "adult recreational marijuana use, cultivation and sales the lowest [city] law enforcement priority", went further in recognizing that marijuana prohibition was a waste of taxpayer resources. Many cities across the state took, either formally or informally, the same approach. But as of 2005 the state was along in its progressive, rational view on the subject.
Fast forward to 2015 and America's stance on the subject couldn't be more different. In the last 18 months nearly half of all states have had ballot measures looking to end the prohibition in some form. Politicians are increasingly comfortable talking about the issue and many are seeing it as smart politics to get behind reform initiatives - a stance that ten years ago would have been political suicide. 2015 marks the first time a majority - 53% - of Americans support marijuana's outright legalization and 73% are in favor of its use for medical purposes, according to a recent PeoplePress study.
This stands in stark contrast to a 1969 poll which found only 12% of Americans were in favor of legalization.
The fear, confusion and anger over our misguided (and racially motivated) anti-drug policies has been replaced by typical American optimism and ingenuity. Marijuana entrepreneurs are opening cafes, dispensaries, farms and distribution networks (in state of course!) to capitalize on the positive changes. Hope is in the air for those states still saddled with antiquated laws and relief permeates those who have joined the 21st century.
Marijuana reform has put our country on the forefront of good health policy. It has made our neighbor to the North, Canada, appear foolish and backwards.
Our old prohibition policies are a textbook example of what happens when government meddles in our beautiful economy. People lose their lives. Criminals prosper. Resources are allocated to where they ought not to be allocated (our massive police forces).
When our elected officials steer instead of dictate our society runs more smoothly. When they actually listen to the will of the people and to our finest minds good things happen.
This is something they should all keep in mind for the upcoming election. Our country is founded on people with similar but not identical values. Tolerance of these differences are what make our nation great. The marijuana reforms we've recently seen and will hopefully continue to see show what happens when we stick to the values that make our nation so great.