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SIGNS OF THE TIMES?


A couple of months ago or so, prominent Republican John Boehner, former Speaker of the House, reversed his stance from “unalterably opposed” to marijuana legalization to “my thinking on cannabis has evolved” to joining the board of advisers of Acreage Holdings, according to The New York Times, a cannabis corporation that operates in 11 states. Of course, it comes as no surprise that a politician will reverse his or her ideological stance when it comes to the business sector and, also, that they join a corporate board once they’ve proven their chops in the political arena. People need to make a living, y’all.


But that is neither here nor there, when in fact, an argument can be made—and this is something I have always argued—that evolving and changing is one’s thinking is, in most cases, a sign of maturity and critical thinking. In any case, the incapability of changing one’s mind is problematic. It shows a certain resistance to learning from life. The reasons for change vary, and that is the nub: does a change come in the face of possible profits or does it come after true and thoughtful consideration? Of such questions the fields of philosophy and the social sciences are mined.


What this means for cannabis in general, however, is promising. It means that cannabis as a business now seems such a possibility that even entrenched Republicans see fit to change their mind about it. In fact, Mr. Boehner, who voted against marijuana legalization when in office, recently tweeted about using marijuana research to combat the opioid epidemic and helping military veterans. Surely a sign of the times, when both Pew and Gallup reports show that over 50% of Americans are in favor of its legislation, and of Republicans, 51 percent.


Nevertheless, advocacy is still very necessary, as large numbers of people continue to go to prison for using it. Laws on where and under what circumstances it is legal are confusing. For instance, in New York, possession is illegal, yet the Compassionate Care Act of 2014 allows patients of some specific conditions to obtain cannabis for medical use. Also, in some states, the law differentiates between the possession of plants and that of ready to use marijuana, and in others, it does not. These are important things to keep track of and yes, keeping track of these things is confusing and time-consuming.


Which is why legalization at the federal level is urgent and necessary, and politicians—understandably overly-cautious since their employment depends on their constituents’ approval—could be doing a better job of deliberating and legislating on the issue. In any case, it is important to keep informed of where the winds of public opinion are blowing, as pertains to cannabis legalization.


About the Author:

Trudy Mercadal, Ph.D

New Orleans born with a Latina background, I am a writer, social historian & cultural studies researcher with a doctorate in Comparative Studies. My focus on community and popular culture. Main interests are the ways in which people express identity through arts—such as music, graffiti, and magazines—and their consuming practices, that is, the what (and how) they buy, ingest, eat, and wear. In my personal life, I am a dedicated urban mini-farmer and, also, a certified cheesemaker who makes a truly kick-ass grilled cheese sandwich.

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