Im probably in the minority here, but i believe I will see legalized herb in the United States, in my lifetime. Over the past twenty years alone, marijuana has lost the evil stigma that it once carried. From the 90's to today, it has gone from a "gateway drug" and "the reason you didn't get into college" to a "miracle herb" and a "pain and stress management tool". In the past twenty years there have been more beneficial applications and studies discovered, then unhealthy side effects and studies.
In some states like Colorado, people arent even being arrested for possession anymore, fines are being handed out. We have witnessed medical marijuana facilities sprout up all over the USA, along with States that legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, both East and West coasts. Along with the gaining public acceptance and beneficial discoveries being made every day with this herb, people are now realizing that pot isn't the killer that alcohol is, and it isn't addictive cancer causer that cigerettes are.
People are starting to see that it really isn't how "Reefer Madness" portrayed it. As we age, there will be more people then in generations past who have actually tried it, and know what the herb is really about.
Now again, I am probably in the minority, but i think once the Govt figures out a way to decriminalize it, make a good profit off of it, and gain some kind of control to the import/export of it, that it will become legal in some form. The by products of the Govt doing such a thing would be creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and i hypothisize that you would see a drop in alcohol and other drug related deaths. I also believe the populations in the prison systems would shrink. I don't think there would be total liberty with the drug. I think there would have to be limits of what one could have on them, where they could consume, etc. There would still be laws governing the use of, but it wouldn't be a criminal act to responsibly use the herb.
15/20 years ago, nobody would have been able to convince me that you could ban smoking in bars... especially in the tobacco belt, but it happened. If you lived in VA fifteen years ago, you had to drive to Baltimore or Charleston to go to a tobacco "Head" shop to get marijuana smoking supplies. These days, there are smoke shops with paraphernalia on every corner, and crap like K2 Spice, and Black Magic Smoke being sold in gas stations.
It will take time, but the new look of marijuana is already around us, being accepted. I have even talked with police officers on this subject and they came to a consensus, that it isn't even worth busting the kids for it in some instances. I actually have a family relative that is a police officer who says verbatim "Why introduce these children to the judicial system for something we did in the seventies and eighties when we were kids, and something we don't see much wrong with. Its different if they are breaking a law while they are doing it, then it becomes another crime being committed during a crime, but if we find kids fishing and smoking for example, or not breaking any other crimes... if we can, we try and give some kids another chance. Call their parents, suggest home drug tests, sometimes all it takes is to scare them one good time and to empower the parents with a reason to make the kids business their business."
If even police have this mind set, then in my own personal belief, its only a matter of time before its nothing more then a cocktail, with specified places and rules dictating responsible consumption and behavior. Until that time, the people who do it know where to get it safely and quietly, and will wait it out. Its not like its that hard to procure already in this day and age.
Not trying to spur an argument just giving my personal opinion.
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