What does it say about our elected representatives when even a president who grants that marijuana is no “more dangerous than alcohol,” jokes about his past drug use, and faces no more elections in his lifetime is terrified to go along with a massive and still-growing majority of Americans?
That we can’t look to them for anything resembling leadership. The campaign to legalize marijuana — and thus expand personal freedom while minimizing the massive harms that attend to prohibition regardless of the substance being banned — is decades old and has always had to fight first and foremost against establishment politicians and media outlets. Colorado’s liberal Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper staunchly opposed legalization, which ultimately passed by a 55 percent to 44 percent margin. In 2010, when California put legalization on the ballot (it failed), virtually every daily newspaper editorialized against such a move.
Successful efforts in Colorado and Washington state — which will be replicated elsewhere, and soon — pulled together ad hoc political coalitions that included wild-eyed hippies, button-down conservatives, business-minded libertarians, minority church leaders, and others that might not agree on much else but the single issue under discussion. In this, they followed the example of retired Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a hardcore libertarian and a hardcore progressive, who nonetheless co-sponsored legislation to repeal federal penalties against marijuana use, production, and distribution.