The movement toward ending cannabis prohibition seems to be growing by the day lately. Just in the last few weeks, a federal court in California has ordered the DEA to stop targeting medical marijuana providers and patients, Canada has elected a new Prime Minister who’s vowed to legalize marijuana, presidential hopeful and Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, has introduced legislation to remove marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances, and the Mexican Supreme Court has ruled that the prohibition of marijuana cultivation and consumption for personal use is unconstitutional. All the while, Chuck Rosenberg, the current head of the Drug Enforcement Agency has lately taken to denying the facts by claiming that medicinal marijuana is “a joke.” Though the little research that has been conducted has shown otherwise, Rosenberg ignorantly stated that,
“We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine—that is a joke.”
Ironically, a recent national survey of more than a thousand law enforcement agencies, which was conducted by the DEA, has shown that marijuana is of very little concern to most police agencies across the nation. Understandably and quite expectedly, the substances that pose a more considerable threat to our communities, and are of much greater concern to law enforcement, are meth and heroin according to the report. These drugs truly are harmful and lead to many health issues, overdoses, and even deaths among users. Apparently Mr. Rosenberg not only ignores the limited scientific data on the medicinal qualities of cannabis, but he also seems to willfully ignore the statistics collected by his own agency. Otherwise, he would realize that not only is marijuana “probably not as dangerous as heroin,” as he also said in a previous statement, it is actually much safer than many other recreational drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.
Despite rhetoric from the leader of the DEA, marijuana policies among the states continue to move forward as well. In Illinois, a new medical marijuana program will soon start distributing medicine to approved patients throughout the state. Then in Ohio, the people voted against legalization because the proposal in their state would have created a monopoly for several big businesses. To some, this may seem like a setback for legalization efforts there, but clearly, Ohio voters want a more sensible approach to marijuana legalization, as “Recent public opinion polls indicated a large majority of Ohioans — as many as 9 in 10 — support legalizing medical marijuana and a slight majority of Ohio voters approve of legal recreational marijuana,” according to the Cleveland.com news site.
In anticipation of the the problem that Ohio was facing with their Issue 3 ballot initiative, Willie Nelson has started a crusade opposing the very same thing, fighting against the corporate takeover of legalized cannabis. There is nothing more unpleasant about the decriminalization and commercialization of pot than the corporate takeover of big companies looking to cash in and dominate the market. If anything, the cultivation and sale of legal weed should benefit the poorest in our country the most, as they have been the most adversely and disproportionately affected by the unjust war on drugs that has prevailed for the last half century. This is why, for the great state of Michigan, MI Legalize is the only real option for legalizing recreational weed.
As summarized by the International Business Times,
“MI Legalize proposes making all forms of marijuana legal for adults 21 and over, and would allow local communities to license marijuana retailers. It proposes a 10 percent tax on recreational marijuana that would go toward state funding for education and transportation, with a portion also going to local governments. The Michigan Cannabis Coalition proposal would also legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older, but outlines a system in which state lawmakers decide the tax rate and establish licensing guidelines.”
Since Michigan has had a medical marijuana program in place for quite some time now, the state doesn’t face as much difficulty in moving forward with full legalization as Ohio did. Proponents of Issue 3 tried to do everything in one fell swoop, legalizing both medical and recreational cannabis. And then there was the whole oligopoly aspect of it, that would have restricted the legal market, which certainly would not have been in the best interests of the people. In the other states that have legalized, it has been an incremental change. First, medical marijuana, then recreational. But as the people become more informed and enlightened on the overall health benefits of cannabis, it will only continue to become more abundantly clear that prohibition never should have happened in the first place.
Hopefully this “medical first, then recreational” trend won’t have to continue, as efforts such as the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015″ that was introduced by Bernie Sanders work to make significant changes on the federal level. Perhaps once that is a reality, Chuck Rosenberg, the DEA, and all law enforcement around the country can make a better effort to catch real criminals and work to get truly dangerous drugs off our streets.