The Legalization Tipping Point


Given that three states could legalize cannabis this fall, Julian Brookes feels we're approaching it:

When [the first state legalizes], expect one of two things – either: the federal government, in deference to democratic principles, will decline to enforce its ban on marijuana, creating space for the state to be a "laboratory of democracy," working out its new policy by trial and error, learning as it goes, creating a trove of hard-earned lessons to guide the states that (inevitably) will follow; or: the federal government will bide its time and then come down hard, busting growers and retailers, seizing land and property (or, just as effective, threatening to), going after banks that serve pot business, and doing whatever else it takes to shut down the state's legalization push.

Which is why those who favor an end to Prohibition cannot, it seems to me, be apathetic in this election. Yes, Obama's DEA has been acting dreadfully lately – but when even the city of Los Angeles believes its medical marijuana program has gotten out of hand, this is not that huge a surprise. But Romney? He opposes medical marijuana completely. He has physically walked away from a patient who needed it. He is personally opposed even to caffeine. Anti-Prohibitionists can get purist, especially given the outlaw aspects of cannabis culture in America. But get real. If you care about ending Prohibition, an Obama administration will be far less hostile than a Romney administration trying to prove its Christianist credentials every day of the week. And at this critical juncture, one election could determine the future.

(Photo: By David McNew/Getty Images)