On Sunday, I will host Jon Walker, author of the first book to look a decade and a half into a future where cannabis use will be governed by sets of local, state and national regimes that will be quite different from what we now experience or observe. It will be the second time I’ve been able to host discussion here about how government agencies deal with the most irrational element of the generations-old “war on drugs.” Back in December, I hosted author Doug Fine, whose book Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution had just come out in paperback. Fine spent an entire growing season following a single plant from clone to use by a medical marijuana patient. His observations about how one major local polity – California’s Mendocino County – was then (2011) dealing with that county’s most important agricultural product in the face of its legality in the state, but severe illegality in the eyes of the Federal government are fascinating.
Jon Walker’s After Legalization: Understanding The Future Of Marijuana Policy combines detailed knowledge of the past and present stories and issues surrounding cannabis in the United States with a solidly based set of predictions about what the stories and issues will be like in 2030. In the introduction, Walker writes:
This book is written from the perspective of someone in the year 2030 describing what America looks like after federal marijuana legalization has been in place for a few years. It is intended to answer the two big “how” questions: how marijuana will be treated as a legal product, and how this change will come about. I will show in a very tangible way what legalization will mean for regular people and give a detailed explanation for why things may turn out that way.
Later, in his conclusions, Walker writes:
My goal was not just to list what the regulatory issues will be, but also to indicate what political and economic forces are most likely to shape them. I want people to understand who the relevant players will likely be, where the minor legal fights should take place, and what political dynamics will drive the debate. In this way, one can anticipate which leverage points will shape the future.
The author goes about this in a set of chapters titled:
Chapter 1 – Where to Buy
Chapter 2 – What to Buy: Brands, Selection, and Big Marijuana
Chapter 3 – Price
Chapter 4 – Taxes
Chapter 5 – Home Growing
Chapter 6 – Where You Can Smoke
Chapter 7 – Who Is Smoking
Chapter 8 – Impact on Public Health
Chapter 9 – What Becomes of Medical Marijuana
Chapter 10 – Criminal Justice
Chapter 11 – Industrial Hemp
Chapter 12 – How and Why It Happened
There are footnotes and 23 pages of endnotes.
Nobody can predict the future. Walker’s setting of 2030 as the period he envisions makes a lot of sense, though. Near the end of the book, he relates how we get from 2014 to 2030, step by step.
I found the book to be a very accessible and quick read. Walker’s humor showed every bit as much as it does in some of his essays at Firedoglake‘s Just Say Now niche, where he serves as senior policy analyst and editor.
Walker’s look at the future needs to be widely read, particularly by policy makers, law enforcement professionals and politicians. He addresses part of why this is important:
Given marijuana policy reform’s broad popular support and the fact that it has remained weirdly taboo among politicians, the ballot initiative is crucial. In 2013, 52 percent of the country supported marijuana legalization, but only 17 members of the House of Representatives—that is, only 3.9 percent of the chamber—sponsored HR 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013.147 This imbalance is a real problem.
It certainly is.
Come join us Sunday at 2:00 pm, Pacific Time, for a lively two hours with the author who has made Just Say Now a vital component of our national battle toward sanity in drug policy reform. I’m looking forward to it.