Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Pendulum Swings Back

Today is a sad day for the fight against prohibition. Not only was California’s Proposition 19 soundly defeated, but medical cannabis initiatives in three other states failed as well. Even in Arizona, where medical cannabis had already passed twice before. I hate to say it, but I think the pro-cannabis pendulum is now on its way back to the prohibition side. And I’m afraid it will swing pretty far the other way before coming back around again.

If you want to know what’s in store for the future, you just have to look to the past. Anybody remember the 1970s and 1980s? Back in the 1970s, things were starting to look pretty bleak for prohibition. Over 20 states had passed medical cannabis legislation. Many others decriminalized cannabis. But then in the 1980s, things changed. The Republicans took over, and every single one of those medical cannabis programs was either repealed or never implemented. Even the federal government’s own medical program was discontinued. It wasn’t until 1996 that the pendulum started swinging back to the pro-cannabis side again.

I predict the same will happen all over again starting now. In 2012 Republicans will once again control the country. They will be stoked by yesterday’s defeat of Proposition 19 and the other medical initiatives. And why shouldn’t they be? The voters have spoken, and told them that prohibition is what they want. Of course, the politicians knew all along that being pro legalization was political suicide, and this just confirms it. And their fears that medical cannabis was just a first step toward full legalization have also been confirmed. So it will be full steam ahead for prohibition in the years to come.

What can we expect over the next 10 to 15 years? Here are my predictions:
  • No new medical cannabis legislation will pass.
  • No new decriminalization or legalization legislation will pass.
  • Medical cannabis programs in some states will either be repealed or drastically cut back.
  • Penalties for possession and other cannabis-related offenses will increase in some states, which will probably involve mandatory minimum sentences and/or three-strikes laws.
  • Arrests and imprisonment for cannabis offenses will increase across the country.
  • The same things will happen in Canada.
Sure, the Proposition 19 folks are giving things a positive spin, saying they’ll be back in 2012. But let’s face it. There will never be a legalization initiative that will please everybody. The existing black market and wild-west mentality are too deeply established. There's just too much money involved. The result will be what we have now: Constant bickering about the best way to go about ending prohibition without endangering the children or cutting into anybody's profits.

So check back here again in 10-15 years and see how accurate my predictions were. Around that time the pendulum should start swinging back again. The older folks who are the staunchest supporters of prohibition will be gone, and we might have a fighting chance. Then again, the younger voters will be older by then and worrying about the message they send to their children. Sadly, when many people become parents, that message becomes, “don’t do what I did.”