The problem of pot


By: Graham Dano, Staff Writer

Last Monday, I had the privilege to visit the Barcelona Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum with on our study abroad trip. We got to see historical bongs, marijuana consumption methods, products and many items made of hemp. Also, we got to see the stereotypical items used in dope paraphernalia as well, from Spanish-language Cheech and Chong posters to old Louis Armstrong records about “spinach”, which was 1930’s slang for the substance. That’s why Popeye can’t get enough of the stuff-fun fact!

We then had a fun panel discussion with Patricia, a spokeswoman for the Catalan weed advocacy group CatFAC (Federation of Cannabis Association of Catalonia), and Oscar Pares from a Catalan political think tank, the ICEERS. Both also work for the museum in some capacity. Sadly, the Spanish system of democracy appears to be inherently flawed, as their Constitutional Court has extremely high turnover rates and, as a result, there is no real separation of powers on the whole, which didn’t go well for the double unicorn of a Catalan weed-advocacy group.

While our system of the separation of powers in the United States isn’t as inherently flawed as that of Spain, we have our own fair share of issues when it comes to marijuana enforcement and distribution. For instance, we have an odd federal system where individual states have fully recreationally legal pot(Colorado, California, Washington, Alaska, etc.) while our Attorney General Jeff Sessions is so stridently anti-marijuana that even our Dutch tour guide had heard of him. It would be much, much easier to have a single, nationalized set of guidelines so that the progress of the Obama years in regard to legalization could not be reversed almost entirely in the span of less than 365 days.

How would such a diverse, pluralistic nation as ours adopt a common set of rules when it comes to dope? We did a project for class last Wednesday where we discussed the many different state laws on the books in regard to cannabis consumption, using the four states of California, Colorado, Florida and Illinois as bellwethers. Each state has different policies on legalized marijuana, as Colorado and California have legalized recreational use in different ways, and Illinois and Florida have not. This plethora of laws for a mere four states alone can make federal enforcement a logistical nightmare for our government and average citizen, especially at a time when an aggressively anti-legalization Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is calling the shots on enforcement.

For a solution, let us turn to a similar nation as Holland, where they have effectively tolerated marijuana as a recreational drug since the early 1970’s. Much of the country wasn’t quite on board with legalizing the drug, so what did the country do? Their leaders decided on a compromise program: growing the drug would be illegal, but it could be safely consumed in small buildings called “coffee shops”, where a uniformed employee could check your ID and verify your age before entering to purchase no more than 5 grams of weed, to be consumed onsite. We should do the same and end the failed War on Drugs once and for all.