The oppressed minority that no major politician will stand up for is the Casual Drug-Using American. That’s about 20 million people, according to the most recent National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. About 20 million Americans are drug users—who primarily consume marijuana—as opposed to drug abusers, who number about 7.7 million.
The difference between them is stark—users come from all walks of life and consume substances in a thoughtful, mature, safe way and remain productive citizens in the same way that others use an occasional drink or two. Abusers have an ongoing medical crisis. The notion that so many Americans use drugs in a mature way every day has to be factored into our drug policy, which has been changing while you’ve been watching Russiagate metastasizing.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed the course that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder set. Obama and Holder never ended the Drug War, but they tried to slow it down a bit. Sessions has ordered federal prosecutors to once again apply mandatory minimum sentences to low-level, non-violent drug offenders. He recently told Hugh Hewitt, “Marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize.”
Much has been written about how damaging the Drug War is to America in general and to oppressed communities of color in specific, and over the next few years defending those people from the cruelty of the Jefferson Beauregard Sessions DOJ will be a critical battle.
But for right now I’m wondering, what about Casual Drug-Using Americans? Who will stand up for them? Who will say that after a long day of working, buying, paying taxes, and getting the kids to bed, they have a right to enjoy a nice joint at the end of the day. Casual Drug Using Americans are voters and they have rights, too.
As Americans whose Constitution promises the pursuit of happiness, we have a moral right to put what we want into our own adult bodies. We have a right, in a consumer economy, to be able to acquire things we want that will not hurt us or others in a safe and professional way, like, a store. We have a right to ask that we live in a society where marijuana, which is built to make people happy, is as widely available and as easy to purchase as a gun.
We have a right, as voters and taxpayers, to demand true safety from our government—not safety theater. It makes no sense for a government to claim to be protecting us from drugs while also allowing the most dangerous members of society to control the drug trade. The only way to damage the underground drug economy is to create an aboveground drug economy that wins on price, quality, legality, and convenience, thus taking away so many customers from the underground economy that it grows not profitable enough to survive.
If we truly see drug trafficking as a global threat we must stop criminalizing the taxpayers’ desire for marijuana and let the state become their dealer—let government take over regulation of the industry and expand the storefront model that has been successful in Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
If President Donald Trump really were the Businessman-in-Chief that he claims to be, he’d see the value in expanding the sale of this product and thus ending the underground market and significantly increasing America’s taxation base. Growing and distributing marijuana would lead to thousands of new jobs for Americans. Alas, like so many, he thinks of drugs and sees only drug abusers and not the millions of drug users.
We have a right in a nation where everyone and everything is about maximizing earnings, to have a government that does not allow a multi-billion dollar industry to operate inside its borders with neither government regulation nor a taxation of its profits.
The decades of chasing the industry around the globe have brought us nothing but hollow victories that have vacuumed up billions of taxpayer dollars without denting the price or quality of marijuana. Why are we still paying for this failed war?
We have a right—nay we have a duty—as marijuana-loving voters to demand that the major candidates we support in the future are in favor of decriminalization or legalization. Make it a voting issue for yourself—like, I won’t vote for a Democrat who doesn’t support the liberation of Mary Jane. It doesn’t make sense to perpetuate the prohibition and it makes sense to send your votes to people who will protect your right to smoke weed.
This country will start to care about the rights of Casual Drug-Using Americans when we stand up and vote as if weed really matters.