“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug. It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”
That was Joe Biden, one year ago on November 17th, 2019.
At that point, the would-be presidential nominee was still just a candidate and was taking heavy fire on the issue of cannabis reform from his Left flank. The “gateway drug” comment was a perfect shot by Biden, straight through his own foot. In a subsequent televised debate, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, “I thought you might have been high when you said it.”
In March of 2020, still bleeding politically from the statement, Biden complained about reporters who continued to ask him to explain his position on the matter, saying he had seen the light on cannabis after three-quarters of a century of opposition and no longer considered it a so-called Gateway Drug.
Now that he has been elected as the next President of the United States, only time will tell if he chooses to ride the green wave he is inheriting or get knocked down by it.
Of course, Biden is not alone in using that term – Gateway Drug – to describe cannabis, and we’re not talking about over the course of history but over the course of the past year or two. His name sat alongside prominent members of the United States Senate and Congress on both sides of the aisle including Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Majority Leader, who as recently as August of 2019 was still disparagingly referring to the plant as a “threshold drug”.
Well, guess what? They’re right. All of these ancient-minded stooges and empty suits are right. Cannabis is a gateway and if they think “legal weed” is scary, just wait until they see what’s on the other side.
THE LONGER THEY WAIT, THE “WORSE” IT’LL GET
Election Day 2020 saw Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota join the list of 14 states (plus D.C.) that have now legalized a regulated market for adult-use recreational cannabis. New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and others are not far behind.
That same day saw voters in both South Dakota and Mississippi establish legal, regulated, medical cannabis markets as well.
That leaves just six states – Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee & Wyoming – that have no medical market, no recreational market, and not even any form of decriminalization of cannabis.
While old farts like Steny Hoyer and Mitch McConnell are certainly cannabis reform roadblocks at the Federal level, their own constituents at the state level in Maryland and Kentucky have scooted around their senators to at least pass medical cannabis laws.
It can be done, but for the conservative voters and the lawmakers in those six states listed above who have so far tried to outswim the green wave – as well as for those reluctant states that have passed ultra-restrictive and hardly helpful medical markets only – they are only delaying the inevitable reform and the longer they wait, the more they are not going to like what comes crashing down on them.
This is where the cannabis plant and culture have come full circle and do, finally, live up to the “Gateway” descriptor.
You see, “legal weed” never was a good enough goal and it certainly isn’t now that we have seen the pitfalls formed in our nation’s earliest recreational cannabis markets and now know how to help avoid them.
Instead, cannabis is now the gateway to full-scale justice reform which must include fundamental concepts like equity, expungement, legacy, and protections for those who always get left behind when capitalism gets its claws into cannabis.
Beyond that, we are now seeing similar blueprints for legislative success being employed by advocates for the decriminalization of so-called plant medicines like ayahuasca, peyote, DMT, and fungi like psilocybin mushrooms.
What began on a very grassroots, local level in places like Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz where those cities voted to decriminalize the possession of “magic” mushrooms and other psychedelics has now spread to entire regions and states like Washington, D.C. which just passed a similar decrim bill covering the entire District, and Oregon where voters just decriminalized the possession of all psychedelics AND established a new marketplace of psilocybin-assisted therapy centers for adults statewide.
You may be aware of the fact that Oregon didn’t just stop with psychedelic decriminalization on Election Day.
No, voters there decided to decriminalize all controlled substances – coke, heroin, meth, you name it.
If that doesn’t make Steny Hoyer fill up his Depends, we’re not sure what would.
The same goes for the fine folks in South Carolina, or Alabama, or all of the other places where conservative voters and lawmakers attempt to hold the line against impending cannabis reform.
The longer you wait, the “worse” it’s going to get for you.
It’s only a matter of time.
Between now and then, you can have a seat at the table to discuss how deep and diverse that reform will be, or you can wait until the 66%+ of voters nationwide who do support cannabis reform catch up to you and rightfully run you out on a rail.
CANNABIS REFORM 4 PRESIDENT 2024
In perhaps the most divided election of our lifetime, cannabis reform ran away laughing on every ballot it appeared on. Red State, Blue State, it made no difference.
Is Texas going to decriminalize LSD or methamphetamine anytime soon? Probably not.
But you better believe that major change is coming there and everywhere else in this country when it comes to who we put in jails and prisons, who we immediately let out of jails and prisons, how we treat our nation’s military veterans, how we care for the sick, how we care for the poor, how we all care for each other…
Cannabis reform is absolutely a gateway to all of that and more, and if that frightens you, well, shit’s about to get scary.