Too many people have had their lives ruined by by the war on marijuana. Too many people have gone to jail. Too many patients have been arrested for seeking out medicine to cure their ills. Too many children grow up with parents rendered nearly unemployable because of an arrest in their youth.
José Niño recently wrote an excellent post in this space, claiming that the end of marijuana prohibition would be not only inevitable, but would come swiftly. He calls others to action to tear down the wall of prohibition with their words, to unite, to fight to end the drug war now.
All of this is noble, but it is also important to be clear that prohibition will not end tomorrow. It will be a process that will take years of work by professionals who organize campaigns, who meet with legislators, who work within the government to implement the regulations that are key to public support for the end of cannabis prohibition.
Energy is not enough. It must be channeled in ways that prove to the public that the benefits are real.
Many grassroots reformers take the tides of social change as inevitable. In this case, I think they are. Cannabis prohibition will end in the United States, whether prohibitionists would prefer that or not.
Yet, that “inevitable” does not mean now, it might not even mean this decade. José rightly notes that public support sits at about 52 percent on any given day, and that this is far higher among younger people than older people.
Still, it will take years for the less supportive older generation to pass away and the more supportive younger generation to become dominant. At best, it will take a decade and some lucky political wins to bring the era of cannabis prohibition to a close. At worst, it could grind to a halt in the short term if something “goes wrong,” like a surge in crime in a legalizing state that laymen voters attribute to the change.