Yesterday, my neighbors to the north, the good people of Washington state, began enjoying the benefits of their open-mindedness. Specifically, they can now get high without any hassles.
Washington's recently-passed ballot measure, Initiative 502, legalizes the production, possession, delivery, and distribution of small amounts (an ounce or less) of marijuana to persons 21 years of age or older. The law went into effect yesterday.
This, of course, puts the state of Washington into direct conflict with federal law. According to the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug. This means that, in the eyes of the federal government, marijuana is no different than heroin and classified thusly:
- The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
- The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
- There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
This act by Washington voters is a perfect example of how to effect change in the face of authority. If the Tea Party folks could pry open the rusted jaws of their steel trap minds, they might learn something. If you want to change law, find a peaceful means for pointing up its absurdity. As Washington begins to implement the new regime, conflicts between federal and state law will arise. For example, Washington's colleges and universities, which rely on federal funding, will have to remain mindful of the Controlled Substances Act regardless of the state law. But try telling that to Washington state college students!
As these conflicts become more numerous, the entire nation will be forced to reevaluate its antiquated drug policies.
Granted, an overly zealous US Attorney General (think Alberto Gonzales) or even a federal prosecutor looking to score points could, at any point, crack down on Washington state residents. But any such crackdown would come at a high political price.
Mark my words: with this change in Washington state law (and with the similar measure passed in Colorado) the United States has started down the path toward full legalization of marijuana. Although we failed to pass a similar measure in Oregon this election cycle, you can be sure that another measure will be up in the next. Other states will follow as well.
Just as with gay marriage, legal marijuana use is on its way. Nationwide.
Funny. I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't been up to Vancouver in a while...