Jun 192011
 June 19, 2011

legalize marijuana

How much longer Until Politicians Change Outdated Marijuana Laws??

By Johnny Green

When asked, ‘When will weed be legal?’ most people would answer with ‘very soon.’ And why wouldn’t they? It seems like more and more people are toking down everyday, and that the public mood is shifting more and more toward legalization. The benefits of legalization are so numerous that I could write for days. However, marijuana prohibition is built around laws, and changing laws is not as easy as it seems.

In order to understand where America needs to go on marijuana policy one first needs to understand where it came from. Marijuana has been illegal for a long, long time. The Marijuana (Marihuana) Tax Act of 1937 made it a crime to possess marijuana in any form without a marijuana tax stamp. The tax stamps were of course never distributed, creating a functional prohibition. States also created their own laws to mimic the federal penalties. In 1969, Timothy Leary successfully won a Supreme Court case that declared the Marijuana Tax Act unconstitutional. The Nixon Administration answered back the next year with the current federal marijuana laws. Since then, some states have softened up laws to treat it as a decriminalized offense. However, a vast majority of states still treat it as a misdemeanor or felony.

legalize marijuanaThe reason that such illogical laws have been able to persist for so many decades is because creating knee-jerk reaction laws is fairly easy; changing existing laws is hard to do. When laws are not only passed, but are implemented and enforced, it is very difficult to get change by succeeding at the political process, convincing society to go with the change, and implement that change. That’s why so many measures/propositions/initiatives get defeated each year, and so few get passed. Humans like complacency, even when it goes against their overall goals. Humans fear change, even if it is logical.

How would legalization come about, assuming it will happen soon? Almost anyone I know would say that the president is going to finally decide that it should happen, and declare it so. Anyone who has studied politics and law knows that this can’t happen, even if the president wanted it to (which he clearly doesn’t despite his BS rhetoric). A Presidential Executive Order cannot override an Act of Congress. It violates constitutional requirements of bicameralism. The only other options are if the United States Supreme Court decided that the Nixon era legislation is unconstitutional (I wouldn’t hold my breath even if I was paid a million dollars) or Congress can fix it’s mistake and create a new, sensible law.

However, waiting for the United States Congress to act is one of the most frustrating, pointless activities in America. There are 535 members involved, and they all have their own agendas. Even more importantly, hardly any of them have the courage to step up for what’s right and logical in regards to marijuana policy. That’s not to say that there aren’t a handful every now and then that believe in legalization (almost always in the House). Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) broke it down to Ninjasmoker the best way I can illustrate it. He said that if there was an anonymous vote in Congress to legalize marijuana, it would pass by an overwhelming margin. But when the elected officials have to go on record, most members of Congress wouldn’t even consider showing up for a discussion. They are scared to put their reputation on the line, plain and simple.

god made weedYou can see that this is a dire situation. The feds have marijuana consumers by the stones. However, there is one other thing that can occur (it’s the ‘secret’ third option that I didn’t allude to earlier…). The way marijuana will become legal is by a progressive change in marijuana policy one state at a time, one election at a time via the initiative/proposition/measure system. State legislatures will not legalize marijuana; the citizens have to take matters into their own hands and do it themselves.

To make matters more complicated, not all states will be ready at the same time. Let’s separate each state into the following categories: decriminalization/hemp, medical, recreational legalization. Idaho is the perfect state to use as an example from the decriminalization/hemp category. Idaho is one of the most ruthless states in regards to marijuana policy. A lot of my family lives there, and I have heard some horror stories about significant jail time served for possession of a pipe with marijuana residue in it. States that have such harsh penalties for such harmless acts are not going to legalize marijuana any time soon.

However, this category of states needs to have people working at the legislature and hitting the pavement to get the incremental changes necessary to bring about marijuana legalization. The best start is educating lawmakers and voters on the obvious benefits of decriminalization and industrial hemp growth. With budget restraints at an all time high in the public sector, and the private sector looking for innovative ways to get back on track, decriminalization and industrial hemp growth are no-brainers.

Washington DC medical marijuanaAfter a state has jumped on board with decriminalization and industrial hemp, they are now in the second category I referred to — medical. Why EVERY state doesn’t have medical marijuana by now, is beyond me, but I have faith that logical reasoning and compassion will eventually prevail. There are many states already on board, but there needs to be at least double the current number in order to swing the pendulum. There is a reason why MPP has a goal of 26 states by 2014; it’s the breaking point where there will be more states with medical marijuana than without. There are many states that are currently researching the feasibility of a program, and I know that when they look at other states to see that the sky never fell, they will get on board too.

That brings me to the last category, which is full on recreational legalization. This is what people really want, right? It makes sense, saves money, makes money, and reduces crime (especially for cartels). Some states are already at this point, namely Colorado and California. Both states have people working very hard to get ballot access in the upcoming election. I know that Washington and Oregon and other states are also working very hard, but time will tell if we are successful up here in the Northwest. Colorado and California are so far ahead of the game that it would take a disaster for both states to not obtain ballot access.

Assuming Colorado and California both were successful on election day (unfortunately, that’s up in the air still), that still leaves 48 other states left to go. No matter how hard the states’ legislatures fought the feds would come in like the gestapo and do what they always do. But it would get the ball rolling. Up next would be Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. Next thing you know it would spread throughout the entire West and even scoop up a Northeast state like New Hampshire. Then, and only then will we get a comprehensive, logical marijuana policy from the feds. Federal elected officials only move when they see an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon of public opinion and act like they started the movement. It’s the standard move in American politics.

obama marijuanaWhen you analyze marijuana legalization as we have just discussed, the question of ‘when do you think marijuana will become legal?’ is a bit tougher to answer. Elections only come once every two years, so what does that work out to? Can California and Colorado both succeed in the 2012 election? Or will we have a similar outcome as Proposition 19 from 2010? I’m not trying to be a hater; I’m merely trying to stimulate that part of the brain that facilitates discussion and debate. If both elections lose, then it’s on to 2014. How many election cycles will it take for other states in the West. How about out East, or in the Midwest?! As you can see, it could take longer than people think. Especially when you consider what forces the movement is up against (big alcohol, big tobacco, big pharmaceutical, corporate America, conservatives, insurance companies, etc., etc.)

I know what many readers are thinking, ‘Johnny, you really bummed me out man.’ My reply is to not get down, get MOTIVATED. The purpose of this article is to educate people on the process required, and to put into perspective the task at hand. 999/1000 marijuana consumers I know have no clue how marijuana legalization really works. They just sit at home hugging their bongs, rationalizing to themselves that, ‘it will be legal any day now, so I don’t have to do anything to help the cause.’ This article was created to call those people out!

IF YOU LOVE MARIJUANA, THEN DO SOMETHING TO FREE IT FROM THE JAIL IT HAS BEEN IN FOR SO MANY DECADES. Start a blog, start a Facebook group, join an organization, do some research, tell a friend, make a flyer/poster, hold a sign at a protest, do whatever you think will help but for the love of herb, JUST DO SOMETHING AND MAKE SURE TO VOTE!!! There is so much work to be done; don’t sit around expecting others to make up for it — HELP! Go to NotDwightHolton.Com to find out why you should not vote for Dwight Holton for Oregon Attorney General, and ‘like’ the Not Dwight Holton Facebook Page!

Powered by

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Thomasclan12

    i just got expelled from school because they found sweet maryjane in my locker if only it was LEGAL i whouldnt be a dropout i lost every thing I had all straight As and now i have nothing

    • Ninjamonkey

      Its so pathetic how they don’t have it legalized. NO ONE!!!!!! I REPEAT, NO ONE! I know or seen smoking ever becomes unable to do things while being high off of marijuana. They are fully functional and do not have any problems when it comes to thinking, working, driving, etc etc. This is ashame. They rather waste the money then gain it. They need to put more restrictions on alcohol! Now in comparison to that and marijuana, how many casulties and deaths have both alcohol and cigarettes cause.. including cancer. BUT again, that’s how they make their money off of us. Handing underaged people smoke cigarettes and drink booz seems like the right american way… I have no words to say about this country and it’s backwards decisions. PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THEIR TRUE POWER. IT’S US AGAINST THEM, IT’S JUST A MATTER OF GETTING THEM TO REALIZE AND SEE THAT WITHOUT HARMING US WITH HOSE AND TASERS.

    • Colleencat7

       Sorry to hear that. The laws against marijuana make no sense. Their laws are more harmful than this plant God created. I lost my job recently because of their stupid laws. They just want to keep people down and repress them.

    • Dirty ski

      Don’t bring it to school dumbass, that’s your own fault. No one has sympathy for you. Its illegal because of irresponsible little shits like yourself. The resposnible smoker is being punished by people like you

  • grawss

    Stop trying to control what people do with their bodies.

  • Lou Christopher

    Probably not for a long time..  Blame the conservatives.. They are always blaming liberals.

  • roberto

    My name Robert n I am deaf person so yea let marijuana legal. Because god made marijuana grown plants then why usa government make ppl go arrest for? But I want know if usa believe god or not? I bet usa do believe god if do then usa should let marijuana legal freedom marijuana is help health god made weed and man make beer alcohol is dangerous than marijuana medical. So I need know when will marijuana legal? I live Texas I need people support Texas and all of state should let marijuana legal

  • lexi

    LEGALIZE IT ALREADY :DDD

  • Jimharrison

    LEGA, LEGALIZACION! BASTA DE PROHIBICION!

  • Thewalkingbad

    Legalize it already… Please.

  • Conswipe

    I don’t try to control what you do why are you trying to control what I do.

  • MD the DOC says:

    All I have to say is I blow it the fuck down everyday, and have been for the past 14 years, and don’t plan on stopping. Fuck the US government! Never got caught and im a fucking doctor! LMAO

  • MD the DOC says:

    What doesn’t make any sense is the fact the US government’s major point for making weed illegal is: “It has no medical purpose”. What the fuck! And BOOZE does?!!! FUCK YOU Im grabbn my bong bitch!

    • go green

      The government is jealous because they are big reaping hue monetary benefit. They are mad because pot is natural and they didn’t invent it. THE GOVERNMENT IS LIKE A JEALOUS BOYFRIEND THEY WANT TOTAL CONTROL OF INPUT AND OUTPUT…EVEN SO,THEY WANT TO CONTROL WHAT U PUT IN YOUR BODY. HOW CONTROLLING??!!

      • go green

        I hate fucking auto correct. that totally sounded retarded but I am sure you guys knew what I meant. hukd onn foniks. wield fore mee .

  • Lulu

    I wish something could be done. I suffer from chronic back pain and depression and weed has helped so much, not even a lot I just smoke a few times a week and it helps me relax and feel healthier, but I stopped now since I started looking for a new job and also applied to a school where they drug test for clinicals. I’m back to being so unhappy :(. I can’t understand why it’s illegal I’m a good honest hard working person and I have my degree and I’m trying to further my education and improve my life and smoking weed has helped that, not hindered it. I feel like I can’t even reward myself for my accomplishments and hard work, this sucks!!!

    • Masd

      Maybe the education-work idea is not something made for you?

  • Hard Working American Man

    I say lets make alcohol and cigarettes illegal too, see how all those politicians can handle their life without their habits. We all need some enjoyable way to relax, I don’t smoke or drink, what does that leave me?

  • KINGPIN

    I hope they never make it legal. I make so much money growing it and selling it its ridiculous. 2 or 3 years from now I will be retired at the age of 28. These fat morons , drunks, gamblers , tobacco smokers, homos and fornicators that run the government are far to stupid to ever legalize pot. Get used to it losers, pay me my 60 an eighth so I can live like a king…….. ha ha ha God Bless America !

  • Reder

    Dirty ski ur the litte shit every body likes marijuana

  • Daniel

    i think weed is good fuck the law and whoever made it illegal

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissa.nowlin Melissa Jeff Nowlin

    I’m totally for full legalization. Been there, done that to the fullest early in life but completely clean now. Never did I see a group of people standing around smoking a joint turn violent…..unless it was on a pizza. As the original poster said, changing laws is very hard, but the hardest thing the government would have to deal with is the fallout after legalizing. Thousands would have to be released from incarceration(taking money from states for inmate care), property reclaimation cases would backlog the judicial system with people wanting confiscated property back, and a system would have to be developed for DUI cases because “How to we know when someone is too high to be driving?”. Not like there is a breathalyzer for weed. As a nation, we allowed our government to create this monster and it is so well established now that it is just too much work to correct it. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol and it doesn’t work here either. It just creates black markets.
    Next thing is the opposition that would be faced from big tobacco and alcohol companies. If weed marijuana were legal how many tobacco users would be lost? I would give up cigaretttes for a pack of mj anyday. And alcohol, any of us that do partake of mj know that weed and alcohol don’t mix well so both of these corporate giants stand to lose a lot of revenue if legalization were to happen. And guess who has most of our congressmen in their pockets? Don’t believe me? Check the date that alcohol prohibition ended and how soon criminalization of marijuana started. Coincidence? I think not.

    • dave

      weed and alcohol dont mix? just get drunk and then get drunk and smoke weed. guarantee you will enjoy being drunk and high way more. cause weed takes away most of the negative effects of alcohol.

  • Jerald B Kiviniemi II

    Education comes before smoke so get back into school some where,s but leave the weed at home. Sure weed is great but an education is the most important thing in life.

  • Gary

    i want it to be legal, i live in the country right now and grow a plant in the back section of my detached garage. i smoke it daily!

  • Simon

    wonder what it would cost to move to Amsterdam..

  • PotLegalizeit

    To me alchohol and ciggarettes are worse than weed one gives you cancer other messes with your liver but weed cures

  • omar

    If anything should be illegal it should be tobacco and alcohol NOT marijuana!

  • Darkronus

    Lets get something straight, no where in history has someone died because of Marijuana. Those who say it is almost harmful to the body are also wrong. Weed may affect the body, but it has to do with the THC inside. There are no dangers, diseases, internal injuries, or other harmful effects that are caused by the consumption of Marijuana. My mom smokes it to endure the pain she goes through after all of her surgeries. She quit smoking, smiles more, and walks as if she didn’t just have her food operated on. Fuck the government because thanks to this plant I got my mother back.

    • Darkronus

      She quit smoking cigarettes btw, not marijuana

  • Troy

    You would figure that going green would tell the people it is time and been pass due for Weed ,pot , Marijuana to be legal .Look how much money us the people spend on it and the money goes to another country not to stay in our country to help build it up. No it goes right out the window into other peoples hands and make people who are rich keep them rich .Wake up people we the people who smoke it can grow it and make money for our country not other countries .

  • Ed

    Actually thats not all true the the Controlled Substance ACT states that the AG can remove a Controlled Substance from the CSA it doesnt half to go threw congress

  • jaspreet

    Buy Legal bud, legal herb, herbal vaporizers,legal buds,
    herbalvaporizers, Orange Krush,buds legal

    You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write

  • dave

    Don’t order anything from sites in other countries like INDIA that’s where you’ll be ordering from if you order from superpiece now they changed their name to superpiece 420 they still ship from INDIA and chances are you won’t even get what you ordered

  • james

    weed gave me the munchies!!!lmfao