Sunday, December 21, 2014

Effective review of "The Year in Pot" via NBC News

141117-marijuana-shift-infographic-jms-1829_bf6d06ce47365fd843dc76ae4dcb11f7.nbcnews-ux-720-900Anyone and everyone eager to get up to speed on marijuana law, policy and reform developments should be sure to read this lengthy new article via NBC News headlined "The Year in Pot: Legal Sales and Anti-Marijuana Voices Boomed." Here are snippets form a piece that merits a full read:

Marijuana has never had a year like 2014.

The first aboveboard just-for-fun cannabis markets rose in Colorado and Washington. Voters in Oregon and Alaska passed ballot initiatives to create the same. And a consistent majority of Americans said they support plans to legalize the drug nationwide, according to polls by NBC News and others.

Yet 2014 also brought the first formidable anti-marijuana message in ages. The men and women of Smart Approaches on Marijuana, or Project SAM, might be the most potent voice of prohibition since Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" tour three decades ago.

The result was a year of fierce cross currents.

The anti-drug crowd fought to protect people from marijuana, believing that sobriety is the ideal and indulgence dangerous. The reform side, meanwhile, fought to protect marijuana users from legal harm, believing that insobriety is normal and indulgence should not be a crime.

Here are five marijuana storylines that stood out amid all the smoke:

1. The First Legal Sales in Colorado and Washington...

2. The Savvy, Well-Funded Campaigns in Oregon, Alaska, and Nationwide...

3. The Rise of an Anti-Pot Establishment...

4. The Rise of Big Pot...

5. The More Things Changed, The More They Stayed the Same

In 2014, marijuana made some mainstream friends like never before.

First, in January, President Obama took a strikingly casual attitude toward a drug past presidents have tried to crush with billions of dollars in federal muscle. "I smoked pot as a kid," he said. "I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life." No, he added, "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."

Next the New York Times editorial board came out in support of marijuana legalization, winking at Obama as it argued that 40 years of criminalization have come at the price of "inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol."

But with friends came enemies, notably casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands and America's 12th richest person, poured more than $6 million into Drug Free Florida, the organization that led a successful effort to block the legalization of medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.

It was his first foray into pot politics, and, advocates worry, it won't be pot's last broadside from the right. In December, in fact, the attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing state-legalized marijuana from Colorado is improperly spilling across state lines.

"Yep," as Kevin Sabet put it earlier this year, spoiling for a broader fight over marijuana policy. "Game on."

Current Affairs, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink


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