Support for cannabis reform in the United States has never been greater than it is right now.
With cannabis legalization taking effect in Vermont on July 1st there are now 9 states in the U.S. that have legalized cannabis for adult-use along with Washington D.C.
Adults are no longer being arrested in those states (and D.C.) for personal cannabis possession and that is an outstanding thing!
Registered medical cannabis patients in 31 states and Washington D.C. are also protected from prosecution for possessing and consuming the cannabis plant.
In many states, cannabis cultivation is also legal for adults and/or registered medical cannabis patients.
Freedom needs to come to all states
The increasing number of legal states is inspiring and welcomed, however, there are still many other states stuck in the misery that is prohibition.
Prohibition is a failed public policy that has a disproportionate impact on People of Color and low-income communities.
Cannabis consumers that live in prohibition states live in fear on a daily basis, and it shouldn’t be that way.
Activists and allies must keep fighting until everyone is free to consume the cannabis plant in a responsible way.
Just because people live in a legal state does not mean that they can become complacent. They must continue to fight and not leave anyone behind.
Ways that cannabis prohibition harms consumers’ freedom
The most obvious way that cannabis prohibition harms people’s freedom is via incarceration. People are arrested every day in the U.S. for cannabis.
But that is not the only way that people are harmed when arrested for cannabis. Below are other examples:
- Loss of employment
- Forced to take harmful, addictive medications or go without
- Failing to be approved for housing
- Losing children to protective services
- Labeled a criminal
- Loss of driving privileges
What it feels like to live in a legal cannabis state
I am fortunate enough to live in a state that has legalized cannabis for adult use. Oregon, my home state, legalized cannabis in 2014.
When the election results came in back on Election Day 2014 I was at home with my family.
Having consumed cannabis for over two decades, and being a part of a family that has seen multiple family members incarcerated, I had long lived in fear of cannabis prohibition.
That all faded with the announcement of legalization in my state. As I learned that legalization had passed all of the fear faded away.
At the same time that I found out about the successful vote, I heard a police car siren ring out just blocks from my house.
In times past that would trigger anxiety in me. However, at that moment all I could do is smile because I knew that those days were behind me.
For the first time in my life, I felt the undeniable sense of freedom, as if a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Everyone needs to be able to experience that feeling.
Free the people and free the plant!
Many people are still sitting in jail cells for cannabis convictions. One of those individuals is Antonio Bascaro.
Mr. Bascaro has been in a federal prison for a cannabis-only offense since 1980 and has the distinction of being the longest-serving cannabis POW.
Others have not served nearly 40 years in prison like Antonio Bascaro, but their lives have still been largely ruined because of cannabis prohibition.
No one should spend even one day in prison just for cannabis, but until the plant is freed nationwide people will continue to be thrown in cages for a plant that is safer than alcohol.
We all have to do our part to ensure that responsible cannabis consumers and patients everywhere no longer have to live in fear of losing their freedom!