When It Comes to Ending the Senseless War on Drugs We're Almost There, But Not Quite

The following is an installment of Doug Fine's weekly column, Drug Peace Bumblebee.

Yes, with United States Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement last week that the federal government generally won’t interfere with states’ cannabis policy, the American people, the economy, and the planet won another battle in the inevitable march to the victory I call Drug Peace. America’s longest and most expensive war, the drug war, following voter legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington in 2012, is nearly over.

This is not just my opinion. The world over, reactions to Holder’s caveat-laden promise have interpreted it as the first major signal from the U.S. government that the war on one of humanity’s longest utilized plants—one considerably safer than alcohol—is winding down. From the New York Times (whose editors ran a September 2 editorial in support of Holder’s policy statement) to Britain’s Guardian, which is closely covering U.S. drug policy developments and earlier reported that a majority of Brits want cannabis law reform in the UK, it’s hard to find opposition to the direction the last stages of the war are taking. This is terrific. We’re almost there.

But almost there is not there. If you’re an independent contractor, as I am, you’ll know that the only thing that matters is what it says when you sign an agreement on the dotted line. Everything else is song and dance.

What the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) says today is that the federal government considers cannabis use, sale or possession to be a Schedule I felony, and cannabis to be more dangerous than cocaine and meth. Will the Attorney General’s words (and the accompanying lack of backlash) embolden the legislative branch to remove cannabis entirely from the CSA, thus allowing states to regulate cannabis like alcohol, in turn bringing billions into the aboveground economy and crippling criminal organizations? Let us hope. Better still: let us call our local congresspeople and senators.

Such bills are floated every session. This time, especially with the hemp (industrial cannabis) template for this very action already written and passed in the House, one can and probably will pass. To the extent that the coming Drug Peace era is a people-driven economic and public safety project, your action really matters. Let your representatives know you vote on this patriotic issue, as 40% of Colorado Republicans did in 2012, as 56% of Arizonans say they will today. Let’s end the war on drugs this year. America will be stronger, safer and more prosperous.

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