The daily swirl of political nonsense takes a toll on elected officials. Many lose their inability to step back and see bigger pictures. In North Carolina, the bigger picture of marijuana policy is completely lost to most of those in the General Assembly. Here are some facts:
- At the national level, nearly two out of three people favor marijuana policy reform (decriminalization, medical marijuana).
- The majority of the 55 million recreational marijuana users in the U.S. are millennials.
- Eighty-seven percent of millennials say marijuana is safer than alcohol.
In North Carolina, one newspaper is already focused on "how" marijuana will be made legal, not "if." And one Democratic legislator, Paul Lowe of Forsythe County, has proposed a bill that would decriminalize up to three ounces of pot.
I've often said that whichever political party gets credit for NC marijuana reform will corner the market on millennial voters for a couple of decades, and probably longer. It'll be interesting to see which party decides to capitalize on this policy opportunity.
My view? I'm betting the Republicans step up. They've already glommed on to the craft beer business, trying to claim they're champions of the hipster crowd. Embracing marijuana reform seems like their natural next move. Democrats would have to unite and push hard to own the issue. Plus, they'd need Governor Cooper on board. I don't see him as that kind of risk taker. I hope I'm wrong. I hope elected Democrats will recognize the fundamental unfairness of current marijuana laws and choose an enlightened path forward.
What do you think?