Cannabis legalization activists often wonder what the future will look like. Not only what form marijuana legalization will eventually take, but more specifically what will they be doing after the fight is won.
The analogy of war is often used when it comes to marijuana law reform, and with good reason. If our side loses, many of us will go to jail for our choice of medicine and recreation. Our freedom and rights will be stripped from us.
In war, after the enemy is defeated, the process of rebuilding and consolidation begins. After marijuana is legalized nationwide, there will be much more to do. The rights recently won will need to be strengthened and extended.
There will of course be the obvious things: fighting to keep taxes low, increasing the number of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana programs, increasing possession and home growing limits, keeping profit-killing regulations to a minimum. But there are other things that can be done as well.
For example, most legalization plans, including the ones passed so far, have some sort of ban against public consumption. This is a compromise to get the much-needed votes of those who don’t use cannabis, but see no reason it shouldn’t be legal. This means public consumption legalization will need to be addressed after cannabis is legalized in a particular state and under federal law.
Why is public consumption important? Because the bans will be used to continue to harass, arrest, and fine cannabis users long after legalization takes effect, even though they are not infringing on the rights of someone else. After all, you don’t have a right to not see someone smoking a joint as you walk down the street.
Due to secondhand smoke issues, indoor bans will have to be dealt with separately, hopefully by local government and voters.
Have no fear, activists, there will be much to keep us busy for a long time after marijuana is legal.