The people are often ahead of the laws. Over time, however, in a democracy that works well anyway, the laws catch up.
When President Joe Biden pardoned those convicted of possession of marijuana under federal law last week, his decision came as no big surprise, even if it was symbolically hugely significant.
We’ve come so far on marijuana laws in a reasonably short time, but we still have a long way to go.
Biden only took the actions he was authorized to take under the law — a president has limited authority in our constitutional republic, and he wisely did not ignore that fact — the practical effects of Biden’s decision last week will be quite limited.
But the symbolic impact will resonate for a long time. One can imagine a time when the prohibitions on marijuana, which were part of the so-called war on drugs, will be remembered as a failed experiment as thoughtless as Prohibition was, the banning of the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating substances. drinks that was in place in the United States from 1920 to 1933.
For far too long, the law has treated marijuana as a grave danger to everyone. Fortunately and wisely, times have changed. Not enough, but we are clearly heading in the right direction. That the President of this United States is advocating for more sensible and balanced policies at all levels is only for the good.
The next steps will be left to states that have continued to regard weed as a demonic drug, and to Congress to address the continued misclassification of marijuana in a way that seriously retards our current understanding.
Not all formerly illegal drugs are created equal. Marijuana is not cocaine and cocaine is not heroin. But to make such distinctions is not to make marijuana nothing at all.
There are good reasons why we prevent children from buying and using potty. Just like there are good reasons why kids aren’t allowed to walk into a bar and order a shot of vodka. And, as with so many other things in life, some will not readily recognize that there is a time and a place for leisure and a time for work. The relaxation of weed laws hasn’t made it wise to get high on getting up in the morning or on the way to the office.