For decades, small groups have tried to convince average Americans of a few simple facts about marijuana. They spoke to anyone who would listen about how no one ever overdosed on marijuana. They tirelessly campaigned against the mistaken notion that Reefer Madness was a documentary. They produced one scholarly paper after another showing that marijuana was medicine, and that it has a place in healing, rather than being scheduled as a useless substance.
Groups like NORML and MPP slowly got the word out. Generations changed. Government policies shifted slowly. Even at the beginning of the Obama administration the president was laughing off any notion that marijuana taxation might have a positive effect on our economy.
How things have changed.
Governor Cuomo just signed a bill making New York the 23rd medical marijuana state.
Washington state legalized medical pot in 2012, and has now started issuing licenses to stores.
— 420 Dollars (@420DollarsFilm) July 8, 2014
In Florida, 82% of poll respondents favor medical marijuana, and 48% favor recreational adult use.
There is now a sharp divide between the antiquated federal stance against marijuana and the position adopted by individual states. It is the states' rights issue of the decade.
There was recently even a "pot farmers market" in California, where prescription holders could get discounted legal weed, cutting out the middle man.
The result of all this reefer madness? Let's look at Colorado, where medical and recreational pot is now legal. Denver now has about 340 recreational and medicinal pot shops. In the first four months of this year, marijuana sales came to more than $202 million. About a third of that was recreational, the rest medical. Taxes from recreational sales alone were almost $11 million.
I wonder how drug dealers in Washington and Colorado felt when Pot became legal
— Peter Parker (@Ray5893) July 8, 2014
And what about crime during that period? Denver cops say things are actually easier, with burglaries and robberies down between four and five percent.
Efforts to keep the now-legal Colorado weed out of the hands of minors are being taken seriously. Pot shops check IDs. sometimes twice. There have been 20 different sting operations attempting to catch shops selling to minors. None did. No one wants to lose their license for one silly sale. Many outlets sell their product in child-proof containers.
It will take time for some to have their fears about widespread marijuana availability assuaged. Some never will be comfortable with it. But the times they are a-changin'.
Image via YouTube