Honey, we’ve got to talk about marijuana

The Gallup headline yesterday says it all, “Two in Three Americans Now Support Legalizing Marijuana.” That’s right. This is one of those gems of information hidden in the midst of the culture war fueled by the GOP’s wish to take us back to the days when, cough-cough, America was great. According to NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), the Gallup data is consistent with those of other national polls, including those conducted by Pew (62 percent) and Quinnipiac University (63 percent).

We’ve come such a long way since the days of Reefer Madness (1936) and the demonization of my generation for wishing to expand our minds through marijuana. Today, it’s big business and getting bigger, and those states who can’t get onboard due to misinformation and ignorant paranoia are going to be left behind. I mean, seriously behind, because there are now absolutely compelling reasons to rethink such misguided reticence.

Let’s just say that there’s no room anymore for emotional responses based on all the deliberate lies and manipulation behind the nearly century-long battle. Today’s argument is over the ancillary benefits of marijuana legalization – the business opportunities, the tax revenue, the agricultural benefits, and, most importantly, the science of it all.

There are serious efforts underway by medical research to study the medical benefits of Cannabidiol (CBD oil as opposed THC, the “high” chemical). The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming as to its almost miraculous healing powers, but science needs to do its thing before we can assign certain absolute benefits to the product. Where will these studies be done? In states (and by states) where the crop is legal. Do we really – based on misinformation – want to maintain our ignorance over what could be the greatest medical discoveries of modern times? Why deliberately enjoin your universities in this race?

In states where it’s legal, there is another form of science at work in the growing of the crops. New hybrids are producing products with different human impacts (mind versus body), and the cataloging of hybrids based on effect is now underway. Users can now buy marijuana based on the effect they want to achieve. This blows big holes in the propaganda that the only reason people use marijuana is to drop out and avoid responsibility. The medical benefits to anxiety, fear, and especially pain cannot be ignored, especially in the wake of removing opioid pain medication from the culture.

Meanwhile, there’s a whole new government revenue source within those states, and we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars. The economic impact of pot, however, goes far beyond tax revenue, and this is something other states cannot ignore forever. Here’s Gallup’s “bottom line.” It’s fascinating.

Like support for gay marriage — and in prior years, interracial marriage — support for marijuana legalization has generally only expanded, even if slowly, over the course of multiple decades — raising the question of where the ceiling in support might be. As the percentage of Americans who favor legalizing pot has continued to grow, so has the number of states that have taken up legislation to allow residents to use the substance recreationally. States that permit use of medical marijuana are even more prevalent in the U.S. than states allowing recreational pot are.

After this year’s elections, recreational pot use could be allowed in two more states, depending on what voters decide in North Dakota and Michigan. Both of these states border Canada, whose adult residents now have access to legal marijuana nationwide. Meanwhile, state lawmakers in New Jersey are moving closer to passing legislation to legalize pot, and neighboring New York might not be far behind after the state’s health department conducted a study that led to its recommendation that marijuana be legal.

But even as many states take action to legalize pot, to date, no Midwestern or Southern states permit legal recreational use — though medicinal marijuana is allowed in a few of these states. Now that public support is consistent across U.S. regions, legalization will likely spread to new areas in the future.

So, here’s what I’m seeing. Red states have no choice but to address this as a hard cost in maintaining religious or other objections to legal marijuana. To be left behind in the culture due to the emotional view of pot being evil is the dumbest form of dumb and something residents need to let their leaders know about.

I must say that this is a remarkable take on the culture war we’re currently fighting. For all appearances, the left is losing, as witnessed by the approval of Judge Kavanaugh, huge tax cuts for the rich, and a host of other actions by the government of Donald Trump. In this highly progressive issue, however, we have evidence that Americans still determine not only what they will and won’t tolerate, but also that the people will have their way.

Even if it takes a hundred years to make it so.

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