State by State legalization could help end the War on Drugs
It’s only a matter of time. Like Washington State and Colorado, I believe that marijuana legalization will continue to spread across the United States. Slowly but surely marijuana will become legal across the United States, even if it has to happen in a state by state process.
Marijuana legalization has become fairly popular in recent years. Mainstream culture has lost a lot of the stigma that was placed against it in the early stages of the War on Drugs. In 2012, both Washington State and Colorado voters approved ballot initiatives to legalize, tax, and regulate the recreational usage of marijuana. Slowly but surely, a precedent is being established that I think will ultimately be good for the country.
It’s interesting, but I often see the issue of marijuana legalization (in terms of process) similar to the legalization of gay marriage. Since 2004, 15 states have managed to legalize same-sex marriage. It took a decade of hard fought progress to see those states allow marriage equality. In terms of results, I believe the struggle has been very fruitful.
Legalization of marijuana is probably taking a similar trajectory. Sure, 15 states where marriage equality is allowed is far too little. However, a very strong movement within the past decade has generated a slow domino effect that has spread marriage equality across the country. In addition, it has also raised public acceptance of LGBT rights. In a way, I hope marijuana legalization can have a similar effect.
If marijuana legalization in a couple states forces others to rethink its legality, perhaps it can inevitably force the federal government to rethink its drug policies as well. Perhaps marijuana legalization may even spread faster than marriage equality. Keep in mind, one of the main barriers to marriage equality becoming legal in many states is opposition from religious politicians. Granted some of the same leaders also support drug bans, but at least the bible doesn’t actually mention any specific passage against smoking weed.
Actions are now being considered in New Hampshire for legalizing marijuana. The difference with New Hampshire’s case is that the legalization is being considered by the legislature of New Hampshire. In Washington and Colorado, the legalization was passed in a referendum by the voters. If New Hampshire’s legislature passes the legalization bill being considered, it could possibly send the signal to other state legislatures that they too can pass legalization initiatives.
I’m not naive to the fact that not every state will swing along with the dominoes of marijuana legalization. Opposition of course would be strong, and yes it’s possible that it could all go wrong. I see the potential of the actions taken in Washington, Colorado, and now possibly New Hampshire to set a precedent that will eventually push the federal government to abandon its wasteful War on Drugs policy.
The best outcome I see is that marijuana will become decriminalized in ways that lead to a rational ending to the War on Drugs. If marijuana legalization does in fact spread like a weed, we will see an end to one of the greatest policy failures in America History.