The Last Days of the War on Drugs

“Weed is legal, the war is over!”

Is what I wish I could say to everyone. Instead, the war continues on. Even in Oregon, the western bastion of liberalism and tree-huggin’ hippies, the war continues. We may have forced the state to recognize recreational cannabis as legitimate but there are holdouts across the state that have gone above and beyond to show that weed is not something they welcome.

These holdouts are towns and counties that have chosen to restrict or ban recreational cannabis entirely. According to the OLCC, 116 cities and counties in Oregon have some level of restrictions on recreational cannabis. This is beyond the state mandated rules and regulations that have been implemented over the last year or so. In effect, these cities and counties are still fighting the 1980’s drug war of exclusion and hatred.

That is not to say that every person who has issues with the way legalization is progressing is evil or hate filled. There are many concerns on both sides of the fence that have merit but what I am talking about is the effect of their actions, not their intentions. There is a level of compromise necessary for the issue to move forward and we must pick our battles. That doesn’t mean that I agree with them all.

See, there is little difference in my eye between supporting the prison industrial complex and banning recreational cannabis. Granted, the issue is as complex and convoluted as you care to make it but in the end, it’s maintaining the status quo of social exclusion and bigotry that the war on drugs propagated. Racism, bigotry and sexism are alive and well in all of America as anyone who has seen the presidential race over the last year can attest. And that culture of exclusion and hatred can totally derail any positive gains the cannabis industry has made so far.

I can hear what you’re thinking; ‘But Adam, the tide has turned and it’s only a matter of time before cannabis is legal everywhere and cannabis freedom will be achieved. Surely these holdouts are the final death throes of a defeated beast.’ And I am inclined to agree with you. But I don’t see it as an inevitable conclusion at this point. The waters are far too muddy to make such a claim with complete certainty at this moment. Let me scratch the surface on why I say that with just a few points.

First, here in Oregon there is a huge push to combine the recreational and medical markets in much the same way Washington has. But if that were to happen, all of the counties and cities that have opposed recreational cannabis would then prevent medical patients in those counties from having access to meds the same as any 1980’s law or policy. Also factor in the corporate business model for vices pioneered by alcohol, cigarettes and firearms.

Production, distribution and access are no longer in the hands of the consumer in these industries. While tobacco is ubiquitous in the US, federal law doesn’t ban people from cultivating it but home cultivation is almost unheard of due to the many complexities. Thus, control of tobacco has been in the hands of corporations like Philip Morris and China National Tobacco Corporation for decades. When the country of Australia tried to put plain labels on packs of smokes, these corporations tried to force them to abandon the idea. Corporate control of cannabis could change the whole landscape of the industry overnight in unexpected and dangerous ways.

Alternatively, although Donald Trump stated on Bill O’Reilly that “…in some ways, I think it’s good and in other ways, it’s bad.”  with regards to legalization, the people who support the Donald and the individuals that he would appoint to positions of power (as every president does) would surely be antagonistic towards cannabis consumers. Hell, trump supporters will punch you in the face for simply painting the Trump much less publicly opposing his practices. I would say policies but come on, let’s be real here. Trump doesn’t have policies, he has moods that he acts on without hesitation.

What do you think conservative drug warriors will do in those positions of power when Trump says things like, “I’m getting some very negative reports, I’m getting some OK reports. But I’m getting some very negative reports coming out of Colorado as to what’s happening, so we’ll see what happens.” But can’t name the ‘negative reports’ or what about them is negative. Trumps well known position on torture, willingness to murder whole families of terrorists and misogynistic mindset are toxic to the stability of a ‘free’ society. They are more likely to incite revolution or subjugation than solidarity and unity.

So in conclusion, weed is legal in Oregon but only kinda. People who rely on medical marijuana may lose future access if the recreational and medical programs merge as over 100 cities and counties have already put extra limitations and restrictions on recreational access. There has also been great progress towards national legalization that can instantly be undone if we get a president that cannot even articulate a plan, much less formulate one. So strap in and hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Thanks for reading.

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