The legal use of Marijuana in our country has continued to expand, and the trends that seem evident suggest we ‘ain’t seen nothing yet’. According to a report found on the Business Insider website, more than one in five Americans could legally smoke pot without a doctor’s letter as of January 1st of this year. The most current info I can find gives us this overview:
Alaska: Adults 21 and over can light up and have been able to since early 2015. You can openly carry roughly a sandwich bag full.
California: First to legalize marijuana in 1996. The state began issuing licenses to marijuana dispensaries on January 1, 2018, allowing them to sell recreational marijuana.
Colorado: Dispensaries were legalized in 2012 and this report indicated there were actually more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonald’s locations combined but that seems quite a stretch. Colorado was one of the two states to first legalize recreational use (Washington was the other).
Maine: A ballot initiative in 2016 gave residents the right to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana and that went into effect on January 30, 2017. Retail stores will be permitted to open beginning in 2018.
Massachusetts: Residents could begin to carry and consume ‘small’ amounts, however that is to be defined, of marijuana and can grow up to 12 plants in their homes. Retail stores will open about mid-2018.
Nevada: Last Saturday saw the retail sale outlets open for business. Grower’s licenses are available only to Nevada residents who live at least 25 miles from the nearest dispensary.
Oregon: Retail sales commenced in July 2015 and residents can grow up to four plants. It is also legal to give edible gifts so long as they are ingested in private.
Washington: Recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2012. Up to 1 ounce can be carried but you would have to need marijuana for medicinal purposes in order to have a grower’s license.
District of Columbia: Nonmedical marijuana was legalized in November 2014. The bill apparently took effect in 2016 with up to 2 ounces permitted in possession. Up to 1 ounce can be gifted if no money, goods or services are exchanged. Maybe this ties into some of the laws our Congress passes or doesn’t pass.
This depicts a classic ‘slippery slope’ from my perspective. More and more states are likely to succumb to the pressure to gain more revenue from this new source of tax dollars. I have no problem with the medical use of marijuana so long as that is supervised by a licensed physician. I understand there are therapeutic benefits to be derived by some.
I fear, however, that we will reap the almost certain results of widespread recreational use of marijuana in any number of forms. Increased crime to support habits. Increased vehicular accidents. The increased use of serious drugs if we define marijuana as non-serious, which I have difficulty doing. This is an industry waiting to be exploited by the bad guys. How will they do that with everything tightly regulated by the states? They’ll find a way if through nothing else than muscling their way into legitimate operations. Increased promiscuity will almost certainly follow the marijuana trail, and that will wreck homes if the marijuana itself hasn’t already done so, as well as adding burdens to public health costs.
It is obvious that marijuana is on a roll. And it has really only just begun. Marijuana is, by my definition, a ‘gateway’ drug. This craze will not stop with marijuana. I am told there is a decided and very distinct odor to marijuana; I have yet to smell that odor but I am sure I will sometime, somewhere.