While December 7th will always live in infamy and December 5th marks the end of Alcohol Prohibition, December 6th will be a day of celebration for the cannabis community as Washington became the first state to legalize cannabis possession for adults 21 years and older, without the need of a medical condition. Many in the cannabis community in Seattle, took to the streets and public landmarks to celebrate the occasion as the Seattle Police Department implemented a policy to provide merely verbal warnings about using cannabis in public as technically public use remains illegal in the Evergreen State. Colorado joined the party on December 10th as the Centennial State legalized not only personal possession, but the home cultivation of 6 cannabis plants.
Probably surprising to the prohibitionists, the sky didn’t fall nor did the zombie apocalypse commence. Life pretty much has gone on like normal, with fewer arrests of nonviolent citizens, less tax dollars wasted and more law enforcement resources available to combat serious and violent crime. The local economies of both states will likely increase as cannabis consumers travel to the two states just to enjoy a bit of personal freedom. My wife and I drove from Portland to Seattle as friends put us up for the night so we could join the celebration. Since we didn’t have to spend money on a hotel as we had planned, we decided to have a fantastic dinner at a local seafood restaurant, certainly doing our part to help the Seattle economy.
While many cannabis law reform activists warned against smoking in public as the picture of folks toking up in public admittedly isn’t the best public relations move for the cannabis community, however of course people were going to take to the streets to celebrate. The cannabis community has been oppressed with draconian laws for so long that it is only natural for public spectacles of exuberance to commence, politics be damned. While crowds of (mostly) young people could have the potential to spark a backlash as prohibitionists plot their counterattack, the flip side of the argument can be viewed as a positive. Yes, like the annual Seattle Hempfest, people were smoking marijuana in public, but like the Hempfest, there were no fights or crime associated with the crowds and the local economy benefitted, particularly local food carts and restaurants.
Now, the next move seems to be on the federal government, as activists and citizens await how the Obama Administration responds to two states ending marijuana prohibition. However, the next move is really on us, the cannabis law reform community. It is up to us to move forward with cannabis law reform in other states while helping Colorado and Washington protect and improve their laws. It is up to us to forge alliances with people and groups across the political spectrum as we my find allies in unlikely places, such as states’ rights Republicans like Rand Paul, for instance. It is upon us to let the Obama Administration know that we will not tolerate the federal government violating the will of voters and that we will be ending prohibition in more and more states, creating a movement that the federal government cannot even hope to stop. Clearly, the people are on our side and freedom is on the march, Mr. President, please don’t stand in our way.
Republished with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition