As a society, we have yet to shake off the “reefer madness” that cloaked the country back in the 1930s. If we were to let our guard down then, our children would have been exposed to marijuana and we would have ended up a society of degenerates led onto a path straight to perdition.
As with sexual orientation, attitudes have shifted, have lightened over succeeding generations throughout most of the country — Idaho not included. Idaho, Kansas, and South Carolina have the distinction, fear and sufficient righteousness to be the only states remaining with a total ban on cannabis. And Idaho has little justification to wag its finger at Washington and Oregon as Idahoans spend over $100 million annually to get medicated or otherwise “smacked” in those states.
A potential budget windfall holds no sway for Gov. Brad Little who refuses to make an unholy alliance with marijuana as neighboring states Montana and Utah have done this last year. Little has doubled-down with an order restricting Idahoans from even getting medical marijuana onto the state ballot. (A lawsuit has been filed to challenge the move).
The squabbling in Boise has been muted by a growing chorus — an apropos metaphor as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir supports marijuana for medical use — for legalization across America. In our age of political segregation, the benefits of lighting-up are creating harmony amongst a wide range of voices. Are you not hearing the refrain, “I get high with a little help from my friends”?
The voices ring out across the deserts of Arizona and the heartlands of South Dakota. While the governor of South Dakota was sufficiently incensed by passage of the state’s ballot measure and she issued an executive order declaring the vote unconstitutional, prosecuting attorneys throughout the state of Arizona are dropping all existing possession of marijuana cases.
Citizens of all colors and stripes are savoring Mary Jane as a welcome salve for the pain of isolation, stress and burnout from a pandemic that threatens to not leave us. We now are witness to curious alliances like that of John Boehner, the Republican former House Speaker, and Kathleen Sebelius, the Democratic former Kansas governor and secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama, who now head a pro-marijuana lobby.
On the House floor, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), spoke stridently in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act: “The only thing that I know is more popular than getting out of the war on drugs is getting out of the war in Afghanistan.” Those words are echoed by a Pew poll in which 60 percent favor legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use — and a further 30 percent favor medicinal use only.
And as sure as we are that Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi won’t be sharing bong hits on the rostrum anytime soon, the federal legislation that passed the House is sure to die in the Senate. Legalization efforts though have made some odd, inspiring bedfellows: Charles Koch and his Cannabis Freedom Alliance; Dave Clark, Amazon CEO of Worldwide Consumer, came out in support of legalization in a memo to Amazon employees; unions support it along with social justice groups like Black Lives Matter.
In the long run, the dough pouring onto K Street — $8 million in 2020 and its 130 cuff-linked lobbyists — will win the day, yet there is an emphasis on righting the wrongs of unequal enforcement that may provide us all with a nugget of hope. The federal tax on pot will range from 5 percent to 8 percent with proceeds earmarked for an Opportunity Trust Fund and a new Office of Cannabis Justice with programs for job training, youth mentoring, restorative justice, and public health.
There is something for everybody to celebrate — perhaps even a taste of redemption for a would-be writer who was slinging dime bags some 40 years ago to make rent.
After years of globetrotting, Todd J. Broadman finds himself writing from his perch on the Palouse and loving the view. His policy briefs can be found at US Renew News: https://www.usrenew.org/