The pandemic shows the pressing need for widespread marijuana legalization

USA needs to reform its marijuana policy

In 1971, a group of high school students in San Rafael, California went in search of treasure. They had a map to a secret marijuana grove and a code for the bounty growing there, referring to the herbal remedy as “420” because they’d gather for the quest every afternoon at 4:20.

Nearly half a century since the students of San Rafael spoke in code and smoked in secret, weed’s role in global culture has transformed almost entirely. It’s been widely decriminalized and legalized and commoditized. The notion of the stoner has evolved from sleepy hippy with no ambition to the progressive businessperson with a marijuana company listed on a stock exchange. Investors are interested in trees, governments want the tax money, and scientists are studying its healing powers.

“Eleven US states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, and 18 states have decriminalized it, removing some penalties. There have been numerous bills proposed in Congress to legalize weed at the federal level as well. And in the interim, the government isn’t above collecting taxes from marijuana businesses.”

Indeed, in California, where the 420 code was born, marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use. It’s available in dispensaries that sell everything from flowers to candy and baked goods to tinctures and oils and creams, as well as products for pets, all designed to deliver the health and relaxation benefits of this once frowned upon drug. In that state, weed businesses were even deemed essential amid the coronavirus crisis.

“It’s barely even slowed down,” Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, tells Quartz.

The ongoing arrests for marijuana-related offenses are especially problematic in light of the coronavirus crisis, which shines a new light on the fight to legalize the drug.

Read the full article at Quartz

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