Will historians look back on the era of busting people for pot in the same way we now look back on prohibition—as a, perhaps, well-meaning but tremendously flawed law enforcement strategy?
It also will be interesting to see the societal, health and economic impact of legal, recreational pot becoming ubiquitous in the nation. And, don’t forget the impact on the criminal justice system. Will legalizing pot free more law enforcement officers to go after serious criminals? Will the legal availability of marijuana help reduce street crime by reducing the need for turf wars over dealing the product? Will the legalization and common availability of the drug also cause significant numbers of people to opt out of using more dangerous drugs such as crack cocaine and alcohol?
And, perhaps, we’re all getting ahead of ourselves. Will marijuana really end up being legal in all states anytime in the near future?
Where the War on Pot Will Go to Die
Nick Gillespie @nickgillespie
Some pot and a pipe from one of the first medical marijuana stores in California. The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images
In some states, there’s an untenable mismatch between the crime and the time, but does anyone think that pot—medical or recreational—will still be illegal in 10 years?
Now that a majority of Americans—54% and climbing, according to Pew Research—believe that marijuana should be treated like beer, wine and liquor, it’s time to ask: where does the war on pot go to die?
What episode will trigger that final skirmish that kicks over the hollowed-out edifice of marijuana prohibition like the Berlin Wall? What will be the final outrage against common sense and common decency that triggers an Arab Spring for weed in these U.S.? Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already have medical marijuana (with more to come), and full legalization has gained 13 percentage points in just the past five years.