How Colorado Disrupted The Drug War

Cannabis StationDavid Sirota asks the fundamental questions about marijuana use that the rest of the media hasn’t thought to, at Pando Daily:

Since my home state of Colorado legalized marijuana last week, the primary question I’ve been asked by friends, family and colleagues in emails, text messages and phone calls is some version of: “Are you high yet?”

I laugh along with the tongue-in-cheek queries. Look, I’d probably be ribbing my pals too if the shoe was on the other foot (er, weed was in the other bong?). What’s not such a laughing matter, though, is when the juvenile focus on getting high become the prism through which the national media caricatures our fight to finally disrupt, and ultimately end, the destructive drug war. When that happens, my state’s forward-looking attempt to answer some deadly serious criminal justice questions is flippantly marginalized as nothing more than a punchline for new riffs off “Half Baked” one-liners.

This, of course, is what has happened over the past week. Amid sensationalist hoaxes and a carefully timed series of counter-volleys by the most committed drug warriors, the East Coast punditburo’s professional ignoramuses and its never-forget-we’re-the-real-story egomaniacs added the drug war to all the other misguided wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Terror) they’ve so loyally flogged.

In the former camp were the Tina Browns. Though allegedly not high as a kite, she nonetheless floated a free-association non-sequitur against legalization that was somehow even more psychedelically incoherent than anything you might hear in a hot-boxed college dorm room (“Ya man, legalizing weed might, like, hurt our race with China…puff puff pass, bro…”). In the latter were David Brookses and Ruth Marcuses – modern day narcissuses who ignored all the data about the wildly ineffective, institutionally racist war on cannabis and instead shrouded their anti-weed edicts in self-centered stories about their own personal experience inhaling.

Lost in the sound and fury were the questions America should be asking as our state moves forward. Questions like: Why shouldn’t adults be permitted to use pot? Is there really anything wrong with adults using mind altering substances? Is the unregulated black market for marijuana that’s been created by prohibition really safer than the highly regulated market that would be established via legalization? And how did politically moderate Colorado of all places end up defying all of the drug war’s vested interests and legalizing weed?

That last question may seem like only a political story – and it certainly is that. But exploring that little-reported tale with one of the key architects of the legalization campaign ends up answering many of those other, bigger questions. It also perfectly illustrates larger lessons about systemic disruption and about the power of shrewdly adjusting the terms of a conversation…

[continues at at Pando Daily]

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  • BuzzCoastin

    when they made alcohol illegal
    did anyone stop to ask themselves
    wtf is freedom in the land of the free
    making a plant illegal was beyond the pale
    & par for the course

  • Damien Quinn

    We already know ending drug prohibition will end the drug war and it’s difficult to see, given present availability, how it could increase use. It’s self evident that what you do inside your own head is your own business, including getting stoned, and it’s almost impossible to imagine how all that revenue going into the normal economy could damage the economic productivity.

    Realistically, the only question which remains to be answered is “are you high yet?”

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