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The Steady Mainstreaming of Marijuana

In the most recent elections, marijuana gained a lot of ground.

Credit: Stratford Patch
Credit: Stratford Patch

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My 79-year-old mother wants to smoke marijuana.

If someone had told my sixteen-year-old self that this was in our future, I never would have believed it. My mom is the most steadfast – and wonderful – puritan I know. She rarely drinks, had one puff off her own father’s Lucky Strike back in the 40s and that was it for cigarettes, and has never, ever tried any illicit drugs.

Her reason? Well, I am from a family of thirteen children, some of whom have a professed admiration for marijuana. My mom, close with all of us, wishes to understand this aspect of her kids’ lives ... and wants to try pot.

My mother is just one example of the widespread perceived decriminalization of marijuana: through its popular and sanctioned use for medical purposes and its ever-growing acceptance (at least on state and local levels) of use for recreation.

Marijuana won big in elections across the country this month. Portland, Maine became the first city on the East Coast to legalize the possession of limited amounts (2.5 oz) of marijuana. This is a step seen by many as the first towards legalization for the entire state, a route already taken by both Washington and Colorado.

The cannabis cause also made huge strides on Election Day in Michigan, where three cities, including the state’s capital Lansing, approved ordinances to decriminalize the possession of pot on private property by adults of 21 years or older.

Add to that the fact that 20 states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington - and Washington, D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, and it becomes clear that marijuana has entered the mainstream. A Gallup Poll released this past October revealed that 58 percent of Americans favor legalization, a 10-point gain over last year. Peter Tosh is likely smiling in his grave.

There are, of course, many detractors to the movement, and marijuana is still illegal under federal law. On its website, the Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana argue: “Marijuana continues to be identified by Congress and the DEA as a schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use.”

At the same time, the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, made it clear that the Department of Justice will not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana.

My mom’s one condition before taking a toke is that it be completely legal. She doesn’t live in Maine, Colorado or Washington, and she’s in great health. I wonder if she’ll ever get her wish.

Do you think marijuana should be legal in all of the United States? Tell us in the comments or in a blog post.

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