Election officials have confirmed that California’s Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 will appear on the November mid-term election ballot. If approved, the act will allow individuals over 21 to legally purchase, possess, transport, and cultivate marijuana. It is estimated that taxing cannabis will provide the state with billions of dollars to fund new schools, better roads and many jobs.
In addition to the financial incentive to regulate marijuana, the legality of the drug would reduce criminal activity, clearing the court-system for the serious criminal offenses worthy of legal penalty.
California has always maintained a fairly liberal outlook on marijuana’s recreational use, the West Coast serving as the slouchy stoner’s Tabernacle. But the proposal of an act to regulate the fancy plant’s consumption the way alcohol is regulated across the country marks the start of what seems like a larger first step in the direction of total countercultural infusion into straight-laced, mainstream culture.
The experimental and recreational use of marijuana has gained near universal acceptance as a kind of social rite-of-passage, a relatively benign pastime, something almost everybody has done, does often, or will someday do. The Showtime sitcom Weeds provides an interesting look at this axiom. The show details the plight of a widowed mother who peddles marijuana, not on the side but as a full-time job, to her neighbors in the sunny LA suburb of Agrestic to support her two kids. On some level, the perpetually blazed Weeds’ suburb feels like a microcosmic representation of an America calling out in unison for its daily trance.
Awareness of the facts about drugs is more accurate and astute now than it was long ago, in the days of Reefer Madness, when misconception ran rampant. “Federal agents had told me that vipers are always dangerous, that an overdose of marijuana generates savage and sadistic traits likely to reach a climax in axe and icepick murders,” reporter Meyer Berger wrote in The New Yorker in 1938. Although there continue to be people who recoil in distress over anything with druggy connotations, the legalization cause is inspiring what many feel is a necessary and realistic discussion.
Depending on the outcome of the November mid-term election, California may be the first state to legalize and regulate marijuana for all of its uses. If this should happen, one can only presume that the rest of the country is not far behind.