2014 has been a break-out year for recreational marijuana. Colorado and Washington state were the first two U.S. states to make it legal. Following in their footsteps, two more states and the District of Columbia voted to legalize marijuana. Other states are also moving to decriminalize marijuana use. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington D.C.
The longest running American war isn’t Vietnam or Afghanistan: It’s the War on Drugs, launched in 1971 by US President Richard Nixon, and amplified in the 1980s by President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, who famously said: “I was asked by a group of children what to do if they were offered drugs, and I answered, ‘Just say no.'”
2014 a good year for marijuana2014 has been a break-out year for recreational marijuana. Colorado and Washington state were the first two U.S. states to make it legal. Following in their footsteps, two more states and the District of Columbia voted to legalize marijuana. Other states are also moving to decriminalize marijuana use. CCTV America's Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington D.C.
Through laws and vigorous enforcement, the war on drugs aimed to eradicate the production, sale and use of illegal drugs including marijuana. In 1986, Reagan pointed to the war’s apparent success.
But gradually what Reagan and others claimed as success began to look more like failure, especially when it came to marijuana. Betty Aldworth, a pro-legalization advocate, said more Americans are rejecting the war on drugs.
“They look at the international picture where people are dying every day in Mexico, where the cartels are largely in charge. They look at the injustices of marijuana prohibition and other drug war policies that disproportionately impact people in low income communities and people of color. They look at the size of the incarcerated population in the US and they say no more. Not in our names,” Betty Aldworth, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy said.
The shift began in 1996 when the U.S. state of California legalized marijuana for medical use. Out of the 50 states, 23 states and the District of Columbia now have some form of legal medical marijuana use and four states have legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults.
In the first half of 2014, recreational marijuana sales in Colorado brought the state about 19 million dollars in taxes, less than projected before voters passed legalization, although advocates say that’s money that would otherwise be in the black market and that police resources are now better directed by not going after pot dealers and users. Anti-legalization advocates argue the taxes won’t cover the damage marijuana does to society.
In pop culture. the image of the marijuana user has shifted from clueless stoners Cheech and Chong to the suburban mom in “Weeds”, as marijuana has gone mainstream.
“Many more people are realizing that marijuana is a substance frequently used similarly to alcohol and that by keeping it illegal we are actually creating more social problems than we are solving,” Aldworth said.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said he is open to a debate on drug legalization, but for now he remains opposed.
“I personally, and my administration’s position, is that legalization is not the answer,” Obama said.
His administration has not gone after states that have legalized marijuana, but the president’s party no longer controls either house of Congress and he has only two years left in his term, making the future of drug legalization in the U.S. hazy at best.
Morgan Fox of Marijuana Policy Project discusses pot’s breakout year
CCTV America interviewed Morgan Fox, communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project about the banner year for marijuana legalization and what’s next.