Pathway to legalization

Do you think the federal government will legalize marijuana in our lifetime?

—Choom Gang

They are probably going to have to do something, seeing as we are a representative democracy. Don’t expect anything major to happen for a while. But all signs point to yes. Earlier this month, Congressional Representatives Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced a bill to legalize marijuana and impose a federal excise tax, but all the real action is taking place on a statewide level.

Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont have all introduced bills to legalize cannabis for adults. Indiana is talking about decriminalization. So is Illinois. Six other states have medical-marijuana legislation on deck. Website Capwiz has a good list. This is very similar to what happened with alcohol prohibition. State after state changed their laws to allow booze, and the feds had no choice but to follow suit. The thing we need to do is to keep putting pressure on politicians.

I quote National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws deputy director Paul Armentano: “Calling for an end to marijuana prohibition is no longer a political liability; it is a political opportunity. Never in modern history has there been greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with cannabis prohibition and replacing it with a system of legalization and regulation.”

Armentano kinda sounds like a lawyer when he talks, but the point is this: Politicians aren’t always interested in doing the right thing, but they are always interested in keeping their jobs. Remind them that their jobs are on the line. Stay active.

All this talk about marijuana all the time. What about hemp? It’s one of the most versatile plants known to man. When are we gonna legalize hemp?

—Roger Ruderalis

That’s a good question. What about hemp? It grows fast, makes great paper, fuel, building materials and a lot of things that normally get made by petrochemicals, and we would never have to do any fracking. Why isn’t hemp legal to grow in America? Mostly because the Drug Enforcement Administration is worried that growers will hide their killer skunk bud in a hemp field. This notion is plainly ridiculous.

Pot growers and hemp farmers don’t even really get along. But the tide is turning there, too. The state of Kentucky has a hemp bill in legislation right now, and even the squares think it’s a good idea. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has come out in support of the bill, releasing a statement saying, “After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of industrialized hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy.” This is the only thing Sen. McConnell and I have ever agreed on. I take it as a sign that the world is changing for the better.