#414 How Pot Became Legal

Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009
Subject: #414 How Pot Became Legal



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #414 – Friday, 18 September 2009

Marijuana specific magazines have been around, and come and gone,
since Michael R. Aldrich, Ph.D., published the first magazine “The
Marijuana Review” in the early 1970s. These magazines reach an
audience which believes marijuana should be legal.

It is when mainstream magazines publish articles which may lead those
skeptical about legalization to become legalization supporters that
reform progress is made.

On the news stands now and until September 28th is a good example, the
current issue of Fortune. You may read the article as printed at
http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v09/n872/a03.html The dozen photos and
three graphics with the article may make it worth buying. Please
consider writing a LTE to the magazine.


Source: Fortune (US)

Page: 140

Cover: article, title “Is Pot Already Legal”

Copyright: 2009 Time Inc.

Contact: fortunemail_letters@fortunemail.com

Author: Roger Parloff


The Following Are Paragraphs Excerpted From the Article.

When Irvin Rosenfeld, 56, picks me up at the Fort Lauderdale airport,
his SUV reeks of marijuana. The vice president for sales at a local
brokerage firm, Rosenfeld has been smoking 10 to 12 marijuana
cigarettes a day for 38 years, he says.

That’s probably unusual in itself, but what makes Rosenfeld
exceptional is that for the past 27 years, he has been copping his
weed directly from the United States government.

Every 25 days Rosenfeld goes to a pharmacy and picks up a tin of 300
federally grown and rolled cigarettes that have been sent there for
him by the National Institute of Drug Abuse ( NIDA ), acting with
approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


The acceptance of medical marijuana has implications that extend far
beyond helping those suffering from life-threatening diseases. It is
one of several factors — including demographic changes, the financial
crisis, and the widely perceived failure of the war on drugs —
reopening the country’s 40-year-old on-again, off-again shouting match
over whether marijuana should be legalized.

This article is not another polemic about why it should or shouldn’t
be. Today, in any case, the pertinent question is whether it already
has been — at least on a local-option basis. We’re referring to a
cultural phenomenon that has been evolving for the past 15 years,
topped off by a crucial policy reversal that was quietly instituted by
President Barack Obama in February.


As a result, in most of California’s coastal metropolitan areas,
marijuana is effectively legal today. Any resident older than 18 who
gets a note from a doctor can lawfully buy the stuff, and doctors
seemingly eager to write such notes, typically in exchange for a $200
consultation fee, advertise in newspapers and on websites.

There are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 medical marijuana patients
in the state now, and the figure is rapidly growing.

More astonishingly, there are about 700 medical marijuana dispensaries
now operating in California openly distributing the drug.


Marijuana activists thought they were close to legalization once
before. From 1973 to 1978 activists won decriminalization in 11
states. (“Decriminalization” is a grab-bag term but usually refers to
schemes under which first-time possession of small quantities of
marijuana becomes a noncriminal violation, akin to a parking ticket.
Decriminalization falls short of legalization, in that sale and
distribution remain serious felonies.)

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter endorsed a federal decriminalization
bill. But the bill went nowhere, and soon the movement was all but
obliterated by the return swing of the cultural pendulum, now known as
the Reagan Revolution. There would be no new state or federal
marijuana reforms for the next 16 years.

“Here’s what’s different now,” asserts Ethan Nadelmann, the head of
the Drug Policy Alliance, which favors marijuana legalization on a
tax-and-regulate model. “First, in the late 1970s no more than 30% of
the American public supported making marijuana legal. Now it’s
breaking 40%.”

That jump reflects an important demographic change, Nadelmann notes.
“Back then there was a whole older generation of Americans who didn’t
know the difference between marijuana and heroin,” he says. “Now that
generation is mostly gone. The people in power are baby boomers, a
majority of whom actually smoked marijuana.”


“I think the next five or six years are going to be incredibly
exciting for this issue,” says Stroup, who founded the National
Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws 39 years ago. “I honestly
believe we’ll stop arresting individual smokers in almost all states
and start to see the first one or two states experiment with a
legalization bill.”

Although Stroup originally wanted the “R” in NORML to stand for
“Repeal,” he was later talked into softening it to “Reform” by cooler,
more politically savvy advisers. Now he thinks society might finally
be closing in on his original goal.

Could be. Just watch out for those swinging pendulums.



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Prepared by: Richard Lake, Senior Editor www.mapinc.org