While the Trump effect has hidden this reality, last November marijuana had its biggest night at the polls ever, with seven states easing restrictions on the drug through ballot initiatives.
On most fronts, the culture wars have been fought in courts and bureaucracies in a most undemocratic fashion. Marijuana is different. Here, referendum-based changes in policy have passed with relatively little controversy because most people just don’t seem to care. Of those who do care, pot activists are the more vocal and motivated group. Also, frankly, arguments against legalization are often logically flawed and tone-deaf to the milieu of marijuana.
My years as a Southern Californian, a student at a “No. 1 party school,” an employee of many fast food establishments, a musician, and now a social worker, have furnished me with a more-than-passing familiarity with weed culture. I’ve dealt with smokers from all walks of life, young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural, black and white, skinny and fat, frat boys and hippies and thugs (oh my!). I’ve spent days educating troubled teens about marijuana’s harmful effects, only to find myself in a cloud of someone else’s weed smoke at a gathering that same evening.
Based on my experiences, I think both sides of the debate are missing the mark. While marijuana’s surface-level effects appear more benign than its detractors suggest, its unintended consequences run deeper than its advocates like to admit.