Most Americans have tried Cannabis. Roughly 12% smoke it regularly.
With every new year, it gets a little more wild that we haven’t woken up as a country, and gotten off our collective couch lock and initiated the change necessary to form a sensible piece of legislation to legalize, and integrate cannabis into American life. What is it that we’re still trying to figure out? There’s about 40 years of scientific research to catch up on from intentional under funding and obstruction on the part of those who kept cannabis out of the hands of responsible adults, but there’s enough around to know that cannabis isn’t the boogeyman anyone has made it out to be. It’s not a gateway drug, the majority of users do not in fact go on to try harder substances, in fact it’s being implemented by many states as a transition substance for opioid addicts, back into regular life, gaining agency in their own lives to control their addiction.
We’ve discovered that children do not smoke in greater quantities when cannabis is legalized, and some even see slight declines. Our puritanical bent can oftentimes overshadow our common sense in this country, and it’s important to remember to use our common sense, and allow people to get on with their lives. The legalization of cannabis does not require the pomp, circumstance, and insanity of a lengthy legalization process from most restricted to final standards. What we should do is blanket legalize the rights of every American to grow cannabis for personal use, to consume both in private, and as medicine, as well as to build a life from, as an economic stimulus. Any American should be allowed to form a vertically integrated 150 plant farm, subject to reasonable standards and inspections on structures and safety, but with the goal of ease of access for individuals to enter the industry.
One of the greatest failures so far for the cannabis industry has probably been the failure to incorporate the massive body of knowledge, resources, and infrastructure already in place with the black market of cannabis in the United States. In the early twentieth century, when prohibition was being repealed, distilleries and alcohol producers were not given 30 percent taxes and refined to only a select few as is the case with the opening salvos of some states legalizing cannabis. With introductory taxes of 2 percent that were increased from there, and the foresight and common sense we apparently cannot muster, post prohibition lawmakers realized that it might be better to bring illegal rum runners, and bootleggers into the fold, incorporating their innovative abilities to do more with less, and create something out of nothing, with a small industry with incredible and sudden demand for their products, rather than crushing the new entries and handing over incredible advantages to those with the biggest bank account. So much for capitalist competition. Any American should be drooling over our ability to take this new raw material with unrestricted access, and use it to solve problems, instead of focusing on the ways in which to make ourselves fight about who gets what.
It’s worth noting that while we historically had no problem allowing alcohol producers to begin these new ventures after prohibition, distilling involving the possibility of explosion from mechanical failure, pressure from steam, or a variety of other joyful accidents, or the alcohol itself turning through some part of the process into a lethal brew of poison, yet we are unwilling to allow the growing of cannabis, a process, that as far as I can tell does not entail anything more dangerous that a watering can for even a small business grower, and cannot itself do anything more than make someone feel ill for several hours, much like smoking any other dried plant, is so heavily restricted and controlled that there is zero ability for error, lest a 50,000 dollar, or more, fine come raining down from above.
Cannabis should be considered an open resource for Americans, especially young ones, to draw from to fuel the growing wave that will become necessary to reform the American reality into the future American Dream. Cannabis is the energy that will hopefully help to drive reforms and reexaminations of many major industries: agriculture, pharmaceutical, textiles, plastics from hemp, as well as hopefully usher in a continued expansion of personal rights, including the right to cultivate and use in the privacy of one’s own property and space, without interference.
Cannabis stands at the forefront of a variety of different fields, topics of public conversation, and acts as a partial-solution to many of the realities that Americans face. It’s not a cureall. Gas station CBD will not keep you young forever. And Cannabis taxes will not fund every project that a politician can think of to sling the new funds into, cutting funds elsewhere. The question is not whether we are ready to reform cannabis, but how can we keep from throwing away the advantage that we have sitting in our hands. Cannabis is, at its heart, a plant that could become one of the cornerstones of American Culture, civic life, and economic recovery. Our way forward will be achieved not only through our adherence to our core values, of personal liberty, of self determination, of environmental, economic, and communal responsibility, but through our ability to change ourselves. The second half of the last century created problems multitudinous, but one of the ways that we can begin to undo some of them is by looking at what we have and working with it. Cannabis makes sense to legalize, and we could do it tomorrow.
Cannabis makes too much sense not to legalize right now, and by delaying its introduction, we continue to hamstring our own capabilities to solve problems pragmatically and effectively, utilizing our natural resources in a way that doesn’t completely destroy them after one use. Cannabis, as no lack of people have noted, has potential. Infinite potential on a variety of fronts. Whether we will allow ourselves the ability and possibility to activate on that potential is another story. If we were able to do as we did before, and use our collective knowledge, experience, and understanding to foster this nascent industry, we could create a juggernaut of modern day agriculture, medicine, and environmental rejuvenation like we haven’t seen in generations. It’s not utopia, but I know that given the choice between a world with weed, and one without, I’ll rip a hit.
Much of the talk right now is back breakingly bad it feels, with another wonderful surprise every morning. But this. This is one thing that it shouldn’t be so hard to get right.
There are dangers of course. The vape cart fiasco has shown that beyond a shadow of a doubt. But just because you can’t allow anything and everything, doesn’t mean that you can’t take generous steps to allow people a step closer to control over their lives. In fact, that might be one of the greatest ways that we might give people one small step closer to control over their lives. In times like these when it feels like Corona keeps closing in, when economic stresses mount more and more, and when people have to make medical bills optional because the mortgage is due again, and student loan bills are mounting, what it wouldn’t take to just get one win through the door. Even if it’s just flower, just let people grow some weed.