Maybe it was the love children of the 60’s are finally getting arthritis. Maybe it’s because the tokers and smokers of the 70’s are finally able to pass the legislation necessary for it. Or maybe it’s because the aroma has just become too irresistible to ignore it. Whatever it may be, the war on drugs has taken its first, and what will certainly not be its last, first public loss. This is the beginning of the end of a forty-year old, money wasting (read to the tune of billions) war that was doomed from its inception.
The policy makers of old should have seen this coming. The foreshadowing should have been obvious to even the most lay of legislators. Prohibition didn’t work. In fact, all it did was ramp up alcoholism, allowed the mobs rapid growth, and left the policy makers looking stupid. The lesson from this debacle should have been obvious. When you ban a substance to a large population of people who enjoy it, then only the means of obtaining it will change. The substance itself will never go away. This should have been even more apparent with marijuana. With alcohol, at least the government had some kind of control over the market and distribution of it. Nothing close to this can be said about marijuana. Marijuana is the ultimate share crop. It’s as easily grown in your backyard as it is anywhere else. Why try to reign over something that you didn’t have control over in the first place?
Could it be because the hemp industry was poised to take over the timber industry for cheap manufacturing? Was it because the weed was becoming the new street drug for immigrants? Or was it because of the now infamous testimony that it “makes you want relations with black men?” All these explanations could be plausible. The legislation was passed in a time and climate that we can’t go back to. However, we do know that massive amount of resources have been poured into trying to police against marijuana usage since its banning. We can however look to where our girl Mary Jane is at right now and ask, “Will marijuana become the next socially acceptable drug next to alcohol?”
To some, that question seems to be a resounding “yes.” Citizens of Colorado who pitched into their 1 million dollar first day marijuana sales would definitely echo it. However, does this truly mean that marijuana has its social halo yet? I’d say it does with us millennials. A quick google search of millennial drug use shows that marijuana is the drug du jour. However, it’s not our voices directly in the halls of our congresses. It’s the baby boomers calling the shots as of present, and marijuana isn’t so welcome to the party.
The “love the sinner, hate the sin” generation doesn’t quite yet taken the full idea of everyone being able to smoke up at their leisure. Is it truly their fault? They were bombarded with propaganda that said marijuana would doom them. Then once their new puppet was damned to vile territory, social programs began to reap the benefits of its illegality. Prisons had a new drug charge to slap onto young people, cops had a new reason to search people, and minorities could yet again be targeted. These social ills were only ramped up in the 80s with the advent of hard drugs entering into the main stream. Marijuana was lumped into the cracks, heroines, and cocaines of the era and didn’t stand a chance. Now, it’s the first to be unshackled. How did it happen?
The answer is rather simple, marijuana reached its tipping point. Weed did what no other drug had by becoming both affordable and easily accessible. Weed no longer became stigmatized by any subculture or economic status. Once weed invaded the suburbs at large, the banner against it was quickly going to fall. With no necessary need for dangerous gang activity around it, weed became the safe drug to purchase. It became sexy. With its ability to be cultivated into different strains, consumed by different methods, and relative ease to obtain, weed shocked the drug market into its control. When something has that much money surrounding it, then it’s only a matter of time before it can’t be contained and the government is beginning to take notice. It’s beginning to realize that it can’t win the war against weed.
The legalization of recreational marijuana markets in Colorado is the Tet offensive of the war on weed. It’s a symbolic showing that even if the war is to go on, then its costs are too much for it to be effective. With the sweeping take that marijuana has taken into the younger social zeitgeist, we may be just a few years away from watching the legislation banning it go up in smoke.