Scoot Blog: Is the federal government becoming more accepting of pot smokers?
Is the federal government signaling a major move toward more acceptance of illegal drug use in America?
Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced “sweeping, systematic changes” that suggests a significant shift in America’s ‘war on drugs.’ Speaking at the American Bar Association meeting in San Francisco, Holder said that the Justice Department will no longer push for mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders that have no connections to gangs and have not been involved in violence or large drug trafficking groups. Holder said, “Long sentences for low-level, non-violent drug offenses do not promote public safety, deterrence, and rehabilitation.”
As the public’s attitude toward penalties for marijuana arrests have changed and the states of Colorado and Washington have legalized the recreational use of pot, the federal government appears to be taking a big step in the direction of reflecting these changes in society.
When the legalization of marijuana for medical use first began to spread across the country, the federal government maintained that even the prescribed medical use of pot, though legal in some states, remained in violation of federal laws. Even though President Obama campaigned on the idea that the federal government would permit states to make their own decisions about medical marijuana use, the Justice Department continued to spend millions of dollars prosecuting alleged medical pot users in states where it was legal.
There has always been a disconnect between the federal government and the America public’s changing views on the medical and recreational use of marijuana. The announcement from Attorney General Holder should be seen as shift in the federal government’s position on pot.
Last month, LA Governor Bobby Jindal signed bills into law that indicate a local change in attitudes toward some drug offenders. One of the bills could lead to first-time offenders serving less time in prison and the other more clearly defines the time inmates are credited for good behavior.
Every generation has the power to redefine society when they each the status of being the Establishment. It should come as no surprise that the changing attitudes toward marijuana appear to be led by the Baby Boomer generation that elevated pot to an acceptable status through the 60’s and 70’s.
The changing views on marijuana use in America are not part of America becoming more permissive. The changing views are a reassessment of activity and crimes that involve more the individuals than society as a whole.
Considering the incredible toll alcohol takes on society, it’s difficult to justify such harsh treatment of pot smokers. This is not to suggest that America suddenly wants to promote pot use and is comfortable with the idea of stoned drivers behind the wheel, but it does seem to reflect the attitude that if you want to smoke pot – smoke pot – but be responsible and let’s find ways to regulate it.
Almost anyone in America, even teenagers, who want to smoke pot can find it and buy it. Perhaps a more realistic approach would lead to better regulation.