Make no mistake: The war on pot is
effectively over. A growing majority of Americans favor
legalization of the stuff, almost half the states (and the District
of Columbia) have medical marijuana, and Colorado’s experience will
pave the way for more states to follow (here’s hoping Washington,
whose consumer market gets cranked up in the summer, doesn’t screw
But where exactly will the war on pot go to die, I ask in a new
column. My premise is that the insane actions taking place
everywhere around us will finally become intolerable to citizens,
cops, and lawmakers. Maybe the case of Jacob Lavoro, the
19-year-old Texas kid who faces a 99-year sentence for selling hash
brownies, will do the trick. Or the recent comments by FBI James
Comey about how drug testing procedures are keeping the nation from
hiring the best computer geeks to protect against cyber-terrorism.
To paraphrase John Kerry talking about Vietman (another
doomed and destructive police action), who will be the last man to
die for the mistake that is marijuana prohibition?
Look to California, which passed the nation’s first medical
marijuana ballot initiative way back in 1996 and
saw 46.5% vote in favor of recreational pot in a 2010
proposition. In 2011, federal agents raided the operations of
business of dispensary owner and medical grower Aaron Sandusky.
This came after repeated promises by the Obama administration that
it wouldn’t go after medical pot providers who were operating
within state law. And even though officials from the city of
Upland, which had tipped off the feds, later admitted in
court that Sandusky was operating properly within state
Sandusky refused on principle to cop a plea because he thought
he was in the right. Tried in federal court, he was unable to offer
a defense based on California state law, Sandusky ended up pulling
a 10-year sentece. In March of this year, he lost his final appeal.
If he’s lucky and stays on good behavior, he’ll be out in
2021. Does anyone think that pot—medical or recreational—will still
be illegal by then?
As it happens, Sandusky is doing time in Texas’ Big Spring
Federal Correctional Institute, which is only a four-hour drive
from Jacob Lavoro’s hometown of Round Rock. As Lavoro ponders
whatever deal prosecutors might offer him, he’d be smart to visit
Sandusky and ask what life behind bars is like. Because while the
war on pot is surely in its final stage, there will still be plenty
of casualties before peace is declared.
I talked about this on Wednesday night on CNN’s Erin Burnett
Outfront. Take a look:
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