Come at Me: Through the Political Haze
As everyone focuses on who might be the next president, cannabis waits quietly on the back burner—in the U.S., that is.
Published on April 27, 2016

Last week, as cannabis users all over the world celebrated the historically-hazy but always welcome holiday of 4/20, the White House finally agreed to host cannabis activists from DC Marijuana Justice. 

It was one of the first times such an activist group was given this type of access, but attendees of the so-called, "Bud Summit" told the Washington Post the meeting turned out to be little more than smoke and mirrors. 

The summit took place in a building near the White House, not the Pennsylvania Avenue residence itself, and activists met with two junior-level staffers from the President's Office of National Drug Control.

You see, at a federal level, cannabis is such a non-issue at the moment that when representatives of DCMJ met with presidential aides, they found themselves disappointed, having none of their questions answered and according to the Post, only necessitating four pages of notes from their governmental counterparts.

As Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland cast their hats into the primary voting ring, they leave just ten states after them who could decide the nominations before contested conventions.

Meanwhile, both North and South of our borders, real cannabis reform seems to finally be on the horizon, a never-ending primary season burdening neither Canada nor Mexico at the moment. In Mexico, President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed a change to his nation’s cannabis policies, bowing under the continued pressure of cartel violence. He advocated legalizing cannabis-based medicines, increasing the amount citizens are able to legally carry and free inmates on petty weed charges, proving that Mexico, in many ways its neighbor to the north can’t say, is at least willing to rethink its cannabis policy in the face of fundamental change. Our own federal government has proven time and time again that they are unwilling and poorly equipped to do so.

By contrast, Canada’s health minister, Jane Philpott, announced on April 20th that Justin Trudeau’s government plans to make Canada the first G7 country to legalize the sale and possession of cannabis when it introduces the relevant legislation next year. According to estimations by Canadian banks, $10 billion Canadian can be expected as an annual economic windfall from the benefits of legalization. If and when their legalization programs are able to be implemented, Canada will be able to prove that legal cannabis can work on a large scale in a country that sits at the largest diplomatic tables in the world.

Elsewhere on 4/20, The New York Times reported that a bill that would have made cannabis legal in Vermont had been stripped of all language allowing for the end of prohibition in the state house of representatives. What could have been the first initiative to pass through legislation rather than direct voter referendum has become a fatality of New England’s skittish approach toward substances amid a string of opiate-related deaths. Congratulations, Rhode Island, after a brief sanity scare to the North, you are once again the number one contender to be the first New England state to legalize.

Tim Baker
Tim Baker is a New York-based writer and sometimes editor whose work has appeared in Newsweek, TV Guide, CBS and Discovery Special Editions, and can regularly be found at He has an MFA in creative writing from The New School and also attended Hunter College of the City University of New York.
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