In an end-of-the-year story published last month on AlterNet.com, Drug Policy Alliance communication director Tony Newman wrote “2009 will go down as the beginning of the end of the United States drug war.” He cited 10 reasons to justify that conclusion:
1. In February, a Latin American commission co-chaired by ex-presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia issued a report advocating the decriminalization of marijuana.
2. Also in February, Kellogg’s dropped Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps as its spokesman after a photo of Phelps smoking marijuana was widely published. Public sentiment, however, sided with Phelps. Ad Age magazine reported Kellogg’s brand favorability dropped more sharply after that decision than when the company had to recall its brand of peanut butter because of salmonella contamination.
3. In March, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Obama administration would end raids of medical marijuana patients and dispensaries that were complying with state laws. Formal written guidelines were issued in October.
4. In April, the state of New York eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenses.
5. In May, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the question of regulating and taxing marijuana should be considered and debated.
6. Also in May, White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, called for ending the use of the phrase “war on drugs.”
7. In August, Mexico eliminated criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of drugs, and Argentina’s supreme court struck down a law that imposed prison sentences for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
8. Also in August, the results were released of the first long-term study into the effects of Portugal’s decision in 2001 to decriminalize personal use and possession of all drugs. The findings: Problems such as disease transmission and deaths from overdoses decreased dramatically while the rate of drug use did not go up.
9. In September, Marie Claire magazine did an article headlined “Stiletto Stoners” on professional women who prefer winding down with marijuana rather than alcohol. The “Today Show” followed up with interviews with some of these women.
10. In the fall, several major media organizations reported on the movement to end marijuana prohibition. Among them was Fortune magazine, which featured actress Mary Louise Parker on its cover from the Showtime series “Weeds,” along with a headline that asked, “Is the end of prohibition upon us?”
January 9, 2010
Ventura County Star