I want to start out by saying that we have NOT won the war! This is absolutely NOT over and it’s not even close to over. People are still being arrested in this country for small amounts of possession and we are still throwing people away for life for drug offenses. You can rape a child and spend a handful of years in jail but you can possess a pound of marijuana and do life! Clearly there is plenty of work to be done. With that said, here are the Top 5 Signs the Drug War on Marijuana Is Ending:
1. The Cole Memo – This is where it all started for me and when I really decided to jump into legal marijuana with both feet. This was a memo released by James Cole the Deputy Attorney General (at the time) for the United States. This letter was released in August of 2013 and basically stated that the United States Government was going to take a “hands-off” approach towards states with legal marijuana companies. The memo goes over 8 different rules for states to abide by to ensure that the Federal Government stays out of legal marijuana. These 8 rules were basically making sure kids don’t have access to marijuana, preventing money from going to crime cartels, diversion of legal marijuana to states where marijuana is not legal, and a few other smaller rules like preventing possession or consumption on Federal property. This was a major move on the government’s part.
2. Congress removes DEA funding – Back in 2015 our congressional representatives got something right when they Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment was added to a larger appropriations bill and was subsequently passed. This Amendment removed the funding for the DEA to go after legal state marijuana businesses. But the DEA, being the dicks they are, decided that it meant that they could not interfere with states but individuals were still open to prosecution. In October of 2015 a federal judge disagreed with the DEA and ruled that the DEA could not arrest individuals or businesses either.
3. Policy reform nationwide – States all across the country are reforming marijuana laws. Of course everyone knows about WA, OR, AK and CO legalizing for adult use and that’s big! However, did you know that many states have completely decriminalized marijuana in small amounts? This is coming from states that you may not expect! States like Nebraska have decriminalized (regardless of their lawsuit against Colorado), Louisiana and more. Other states have fought the insane mandatory minimums issued by the federal government.
4. Both major parties discuss marijuana reform – The Democratic Party, after much heated debate, passed a platform that states: "We ask that the federal government remove marijuana as a schedule I substance and create a pathway to legalization." The Republicans, after much heated debate, nearly passed a platform calling for marijuana legalization. Both are important but I want to highlight the fact that Republicans not only had the conversation, but also almost moved forward with marijuana legalization as a political platform. Make no mistake, this is a big deal!
5. It’s the little things you might not even notice – What inspired me to write this story in the first place was a short piece on ESPN about two college football athletes. Obviously the NCAA and the NFL have taken a hard stance against marijuana and many players have lost scholarships or been completely kicked out of school for marijuana use. Back in May of 2016, two University of Alabama players were in Monroe, Louisiana, when cops found their parked car in a park that was already closed. Cops smelled marijuana and found a handgun in one of the players lap (this is more significant than most realize). The car was searched and the players were arrested. The District Attorney for the case decided not to prosecute as he “did not want to ruin their lives.” The players were given guidelines from the football program for moving forward but were NOT suspended. When head football coach for the University of Alabama was asked about his decision not to suspend the players for any amount of time. Coach Nick Saban said, “If they had done something really wrong, they would have been prosecuted.” This is a MAJOR shift in how marijuana is viewed by the NCAA and its colleges. I am really surprised that the NCAA did not step in and make some sort of ruling to force these players into suspension. I really don’t know if people understand how important this is.