Major policy changes often happen as a result of a sudden shift that is, in fact, not so sudden at all. Public attitudes and behavior steadily change over time, but a political system whose practitioners have made up their minds on a topic years ago, before that change became apparent, are typically unwilling to accept the new reality.
Until something changes – a new generation of leaders takes power, a financial crisis causes people to become more open to new ideas. Or perhaps it’s just as simple as an idea whose time has come, an idea whose wisdom can no longer be denied.
We’re at such a turning point with marijuana. One of the state’s main cash crops, the economic base of many small towns in the North Coast (and of a growing but hard to track number of metropolitan households), marijuana is already widely available in California, whether on the black market or at a quasi-legal dispensary.
As more and more Californians are comfortable with the use of marijuana, even if they do not partake of it themselves, the decades-old drug war has become seen as more and more absurd when it comes to marijuana.
When an April Field Poll found 56% of Californians back marijuana legalization, it became only a matter of time before the topic became a fully mainstream subject, deemed appropriate for “serious” conversation at everything from public policy summits to the dinner table.
And so this week California is witnessing a fundamental shift in marijuana policy, where for perhaps the first time it really is a question of “when,” and not “if,” the sale and use of marijuana will become legal in California. (The rest of Robert Cruickshank’s post here. This article was posted first at calitics.com)