Opinion: Is marijuana legalization inevitable?


The Marijuana Policy Project recently surprised NASCAR fans with an ad pushing recreational marijuana use. The commercial not only mimicked a beer ad to point out the hypocrisy of legalizing alcohol and not marijuana, it also made a case for why marijuana is safer.

“If you’re an adult who enjoys a good beer, there’s a similar product you might want to know about,” says the narrator. “One without all the calories and serious health problems. Less toxic so it doesn’t cause hangovers or overdose deaths, and it’s not linked to violence or reckless behavior.” The tagline: “Marijuana, less harmful than alcohol and time to treat it that way.”

In Colorado and Washington state, of course, voters passed laws in November legalizing marijuana for recreational use at the state level. “Colorado and Washington have now dispensed with the eye-winking and adopted laws that are refreshingly honest,” the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board wrote. But since these are not federal laws, it’s not a marijuana free-for-all.


In Tuesday’s Column One article, Times reporter John M. Glionna introduced readers to bar owner Frankie Schnarr, “a rebel with a for-profit cause,” a seventh-grade education and entrepreneurial spirit. Thanks to his penchant for seeking out loopholes, he found a way to allow patrons to smoke pot on the second floor of his Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill. Business is up 40% -- and a lot of his customers aren’t even there for the booze.

Still, Schnarr’s bar, which seems like the Marijuana Policy Project commercial come-to-life, is an exception. At least for now.

In Wednesday’s Opinion pages, Peter Hakim and Cameron Combs discuss how Uruguay’s new marijuana law may inform changes to U.S. drug policy. “It is expected soon to be the only nation to legalize the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana on a national scale,” they write of the Latin American country.

Uruguay’s “courageous experiment,” as Hakim and Combs describe it, isn’t a sure thing. It’s possible that it will backfire by, for instance, increasing marijuana use in the country. Their Op-Ed article lays out additional concerns too.

Yet, Hakim and Combs are hopeful. Though President Obama has repeatedly argued against legalization, they believe that “Washington will find it increasingly difficult to promote prohibition and strict enforcement in Latin American and elsewhere when its own citizens are pioneering a new course of toleration.”

Is it only a matter of time before marijuana goes mainstream?



Move to Detroit, land of opportunity

How Obama has abused the Patriot Act

Five reasons to stay away from Texas right now

Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier and Google+