Although the recent Holder memo doesn’t really change anything in a concrete way (and the Drug Czar and DEA claim that it’s business as usual), there is at least a public perception that there is a kind of tipping point happening here (and perception often drives public policy more than fact).
Sasha Abramsky, writing in the Guardian, says
In and of itself, this is a relatively minor event, a common-sense corrective to another rigid and bullying Bush-era policy. And, in and of itself, there’s not much political capital at stake here for Obama. […]
But, there’s a bigger story here. And it’s that story of the ship of state.
If you exercise too sharp a turn, you risk capsizing. If you go into the turn gradually, giving yourself plenty of room to manoeuvre, you’ve got a much better chance of getting where you want to ultimately go. […]
If you analyse politics simply via the 24-hour-news-cycle, then Obama’s achievements in reforming drug policy have been modest. But, if you think long term […] then I would venture to bet that Monday’s shift on medical marijuana presages some fundamental changes in how America approaches its many drug problems in the years to come.
Over at Narco News, Al Giordano also makes the case for incrementalism The Medical Cannabis Victory: A Textbook Case of Organizing and Resistance
It’s a powerful piece that will be controversial with many, including some regulars here.
…small steps lead to big change […]
In the mid-1990s, some forward-thinking advocates of drug policy reform concluded that the big, central matter â€“ whether recreational drugs should be legalized or not â€“ was simply too big and confusing a matter for so much of the public to tackle all at once. Even the matter of legalizing relatively harmless marijuana was overwhelming in terms of public opinion. As the Gallup poll graph above recounts, in 1996 only 25 percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana, with 73 percent opposed. Any organizing strategy under such overwhelming negative numbers that chose polarization over organizing was doomed to fail.
And so some pioneering voices and organizers set about on a path of incremental change. They chose to hit hard upon a brittle crack in the drug war artifice: that even if three-quarters of Americans did not then want cannabis legalized for everyone, a critical mass had grave misgivings about policies that persecuted people who were ill â€“ with glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, MS and other ailments – and needed the plant as medicine. […]
Thirteen years later, those who enacted the incremental strategy have proved correct, indeed, prophetic. […]
The history textbooks will note forevermore, when looking back at how the United States repealed pot prohibition (something that will likely now come in most of our lifetimes) that it was the strategy of incremental change that opened the floodgates to fundamental change. […]
…there is also a lesson here for the cynics who, in lieu of participating in community organizing and civil resistance campaigns, preferred to talk trash against step-by-step movements for change on any policy front and pose as somehow more â€œradicalâ€ or â€œpure.â€ […]
It is by winning those step-by-step incremental victories â€“ through proven methods of community organizing and civil resistance – that more fundamental change is made possible, indeed, likely to come faster than many dreamed just thirteen years ago.
Have at it.