America seems to be tearing itself apart at the seams. We can’t seem to agree on much of anything whether it’s immigration, Obamacare, fracking, social security, gun control, war, climate change, schools, income disparity, government spying on everyone everywhere, marriage eqaulity, voting regulations and on and on and on.
We use to be able to find common ground - now we stand our ground. A lot of this can be traced to our elected officials whose political grandstanding is the principle culprit in this spreading polarization. Of course we elected them so the bottom line is that we are to blame, but one could expect better.
Existing in this no man’s land of seemingly irreparable division there is one issue that although it used to be very divisive, has over the last few years transformed into one of the only issues that seems capable of bringing us together as nation again.
Just about every other week one polling organization or another releases a new poll showing a new high in the percentage of Americans supporting the legalization of marijuana. The latest poll released in October by the prestigious Gallup Poll group found that 58% of voters now favor legalization. That’s the highest percentage they have ever found since this most prestigious of all polling firms started asking the question back in 1969.
Like other polls, the Gallup Poll found clear majorities of Americans aged 18 to 64 favoring legalization. Americans 65 and older are the only age group that still opposes legalizing marijuana, but support among this group has jumped 14 percentage points since 2011 to 45%.
As for political affiliation, Democrats poll at 60% and Independents even higher at 62%. It may come as no surprise that Republicans are still lagging behind everyone else, yet a significant 35% are in favor of legalization and that number continues to rise.
Considering the contentious nature of the issue and that we are dealing with something that is still illegal in 48 of the 50 states, the willingness of people to publicly tell pollsters that they favor something illegal is astounding. It would not be unreasonable to conclude the poll understates the growing support knowing many people fear that police are monitoring them and could exact vengeful actions against those who oppose their authority.
Marijuana legalization is definitely one of the few issues that the majority of Americans agree upon and the unanimity seems to be growing. Our embattled political leaders may well do themselves all a favor by recognizing this rapidly growing trend and finally come out from behind and take a lead in the movement to legalize marijuana.
Public confidence and support of elected officials has sunken so low that approval ratings of congress hover around 0%. Supporting marijuana legalization may also help distract the public’s attention from some of the blunders, fumbles, screw-ups and outright clunkers that have come to symbolize almost everything coming out of Washington.
President Obama could sure use something to deflect attention from the disaster that his signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act is turning into. Other than going to war, marijuana legalization may be the only issue capable of deflecting attention, at least for a period of time long enough to clean up the mess, from the acts inept, ill-prepared and incompetent roll-out and his oft repeated and embarrassing assertion that a person could keep their current health insurance,
Republican leaders could use something to deflect attention from their tragically comical but still suicidal government shut down ploy and shameful shilling for the corporate billionaires who continue to reap almost all of the money from whatever tepid progress the economy has made while everyone else in the country continues to sink into the quagmire of staggering income inequality.
Democrats could use something to just show that they are actually capable of doing something.
Libertarians could increase their stature by justifiably claiming it was their idea all along, while the Greens could outdo them all by throwing some really great 420 parties.
Even Wall St. and the too-big-too-fail banks that caused all the problems we and the world are now suffering could use something to distract people from realizing how they are continuing to be fleeced. Even marijuana should not be able to get people that dazed and confused, but considering that these scoundrels have so far escaped any criminal prosecution and are bigger, more consolidated and making more money than ever, it probably wouldn’t take much toking up to obscure their extravagantly funded purchase of our elected officials that has so snookered the American public.
Now as for other megaliths that would be impacted from marijuana legalization and may be tempted to gum up the works - listen up – we all have to make sacrifices and if joining the movement to bring about marijuana legalization will heal our nation, then it is your responsibility to buckle up and join in.
Law enforcement is Numbero Uno in this group. They are on the ropes for losing up to $20 billion a year in their taxpayer funded marijuana prohibition full employment program. They will also most assuredly lose out on a lot of fancy new guns and flashy cars. It is indeed a major sacrifice we are asking of them, but following through and supporting marijuana legalization would be in keeping with their motto To Protect and To Serve.
They would be able to make up some of the loss through the enforcement of marijuana laws and the apprehension of minors consuming marijuana, but considering that they don’t make much money apprehending minors for using alcohol or prescription pharmaceuticals, it’s not likely that they would put much effort into this type of enforcement unless of course they could seize the homes and cars of the minor’s parents.
They might be tempted to spend more time on robbers, murderers and flimflam artists fleecing grandma, but if there is no financial incentive to do so, donut shops will see a boom in business.
One possibility to make up for their loss in income would be to put police in charge of enforcing environmental polluters, white-collar criminals, Wall St. bankers and too-big-too-fail banks. There is certainly a lot of money there, especially if they could seize their assets. In fact there is so much money involved, they would no doubt be inspired to do an even better job than the current enforcers are doing whose work in reigning in these corporate crooks is even more inept than the Affordable Care Act roll-out.
Big pharma will also have to suck it in a bit and take a hit of $4 to $5 billion from the reduction in the sales of pain killers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills. Yet that amount is just a pittance compared to the tens of billions these giant pharmaceutical corporations obscenely profit from the legislation they bought and paid for that prevents Medicare from bargaining for better prices as every single private health insurance company is allowed to do.
Their legions of lobbyists of are stuffing cash into our elected officials’ pockets to keep that perk – keeping marijuana illegal is barely on the radar screen.
Besides marijuana has a large medicinal component to it. Through their cozy relationship and revolving door policies of government agencies, pharmaceutical companies could recoup some of their loses by getting control of the production of medicinal products based on the unique therapeutic properties of the cannabinoids found in marijuana for the treatment of cancer and movement disorders like Parkinson’s’ and epilepsy.
Although the alcohol industry will not experience as significant a hit to their bottom line as the pharmaceutical companies and police/prison guard coalition, they will also have to sacrifice profits as the amount of alcohol consumed will drop by somewhere between 10% and 25%. On the bright side, they could easily recoup the loss and, if as properly managed and promoted as they have done with the sales of alcohol, they can gain bigger profits than ever by getting into the mass production and distribution of recreational marijuana.
Demonstrating their ability to bring that about, the alcohol companies in Washington, through the use of a cleverly manipulated and well-funded ballot initiative, took the sales and profits of alcohol distribution away from the state and their rag tag collection of state run liquor stores and handed over the distribution of liquor to grocery stores and big box retailers like BevMo, thereby making Jack Daniels more easily and widely available then ever. No doubt they could do the same thing again and shape the production and distribution of recreational marijuana to their liking and bottom line.
It is truly a win-win situation for everyone. It can restore bipartisanship to congress. It will facilitate a new era of co-operation between government agencies and private businesses that re-establishes the welfare and safety of the public as the single overarching goal.
This is what the nation wants, deserves and needs. Our country will witness a new era of cooperation and camaraderie among our elected officials and the return of bipartisanship, civility, rationality and compassion in the decision making process.
That may be a lot to expect, but if anything can bring that about, marijuana can.