"It's a reasonable bill," says Crawford of the legislation filed by Democratic state representative Frank Smizik, of Brookline, which would regulate medical marijuana use by patients approved by doctors and certified by the department of public health. "It's not crazy." Another pair of bills — H 2929 and S 1801 — each of which seeks to "Regulate and Tax the Cannabis Industry" (according to the bills' language) — were filed in January. Those face a much steeper climb.
Ultimately, whether it's in 2016 or 2022 — or even sooner — the endgame of pot advocates is to abolish federal prohibition, just as was done with alcohol in 1933, and to allow states to draft their own laws — whatever they may be.
"That may mean that Mississippi stays dry for another 30 years, as was the case with alcohol," explains Nadelmann. "It may mean that California or Nevada allow marijuana to be sold round the clock in corner stores. And it may mean that some other state allows marijuana to be sold legally, but only in the equivalent of the New Hampshire or Utah state-licensed liquor outlets."
"I think in five years, more states will be doing what Massachusetts is doing," says Frank. "And I'm hoping within 10 that the federal government will get smart and allow the state to do what it wants to do."
Meanwhile, it's hard not to feel like we're heading in the right direction. But it's important to keep pressing the issue. Crawford notes that he and his fellow activists have been redoubling their efforts lately. Otherwise, he says, there's no telling when "this window may be gone."
As anyone forced by prohibition to smoke on the sly knows, it's best to keep the window open.
Mike Miliard can be reached at email@example.com.