In an act of merciful sanity, the Obama administration has made good on its promise to stop interfering with states that allow the medical use of marijuana. Clink-clink, hear-hear, salud, cheers, et cetera.
Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement surely comes as a relief to the many who rely on cannabis to ease suffering from various ailments. This doesn't let drug traffickers off the hook. It merely means that 14 states that provide for some medical marijuana uses no longer need fear federal raids on dispensaries and users operating under state law.
Long overdue. Is it enough? Not quite.
The debate over whether Americans ought to have the right to be stupid -- or to make other people seem more interesting -- continues apace after 40 years of the (failed) ``war on drugs.''
Arguments for and against decriminalization are familiar by now. Distilled to the basics, the drug war has empowered criminals while criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens and wasted billions that could have been better spent on education and rehabilitation.
By ever-greater numbers, Americans support decriminalizing at least marijuana, which millions admit to having used, including a couple of presidents and a Supreme Court justice. A recent Gallup poll found that 44 percent of Americans favor legalization for any purpose, not just medical, up from 31 percent in 2000.
The highest level of support, not surprisingly, is in the Western states and among self-described liberals. But the shift toward a more-sensible national policy is no longer confined to the left. Nor is the long-haired stoner the face of the pro-pot lobby. Today's activist, more likely, doesn't have facial hair, but she does have kids.
Jessica Corry of Colorado is a married, pro-life Republican mom, soon to be ``freedom fighter of the month'' in High Times magazine.
Corry spoke last month at a NORML conference (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) in San Francisco, wearing an American flag lapel pin, a triple strand of pearls and a gold marijuana leaf pin.
Another day, another stereotype in the dust bin.
Corry, who does not smoke pot, is trying to organize Republican women around the cause. So far, she has commitments from 20 fellow Coloradoans, most of them lawyers, like Corry. Her husband, also an attorney, represents medical marijuana users.
Corry's arguments focus not only on the inhumanity of further punishing sick people who seek relief through pot, but also on protecting her own children should they decide to try marijuana someday. There's nothing like imagining one's own children as ``criminals'' to put irrational laws in perspective.
Corry is hardly alone and, in fact, may be part of a ``toking point.'' (Is there a drug yet for ``Tipping Point Fatigue``?) In its October issue, Marie Claire magazine featured ``Stiletto Stoners'' about accomplished career women who prefer to relax with pot. A September Fortune cover story, ``Is Pot Already Legal?'' examined the issue. In April, former (2006) Miss New Jersey, Georgine DiMaria, outed herself as a stealth marijuana user to treat her asthma.
States' rights and conservatism are old friends -- except when they're not. While many Republicans nurse a libertarian streak, the party has been selective. The Bush administration refused to honor states authorizing medical uses of cannabis, but aimed to return abortion and marriage to state jurisdictions.
The decision not to raid dispensaries or punish people who benefit from marijuana use, though commendable, falls short. When jobs and cash are in short supply, legalizing marijuana would seem both prudent and profitable.
In 1929, the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform led the movement to end alcohol prohibition. Might women lead the next revolution in personal autonomy? Keep those flutes and snifters (and bongs?) handy.
BY KATHLEEN PARKER
October 25, 2009