As smokers nationwide celebrated their cannabis use, the Obama Administration was amid a historic crackdown on voter-approved medical marijuana programs. To tip the scales a little, a recent Gallup poll showed that, for the first time, 50% of Americans support cannabis legalization. Nonetheless, 46% of drug arrests are related to marijuana possession; and pot arrestees are disproportionately people of color. In many states, a cannabis arrest can result in the removal of children from parents, the inability to receive federal aid for school, and jail time. Four-twenty, a celebration of marijuana despite the federal government’s staunch position on the plant, represents mass non-compliance with our country's absurd prohibition laws.
Ditching cannabis prohibition would save $7.7 billion on state and federal expenditures, and taxing marijuana like alcohol or tobacco could generate an additional $6.2 billion in revenue, totaling $13.7 billion annually. The economic potential of legalization recently led three hundred economists to sign an open letter to the President, Congress, Governors, and State Legislators asking they allow America “to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition.”
On top of everything else, legalizing pot could help ease devastating violence in Latin America. In Mexico alone, 50,000 people have lost their lives to the drug war in the past five years. As experts routinely profess, legalizing marijuana alone could save thousands of lives in Mexico. But while Latin American leaders urge the U.S. to consider drug policy alternatives, including legalization, the Obama Administration refuses to implement reform at home or abroad.
Four-twenty thus, is a cultural reminder of the vast disparity between marijuana laws and reality. It is a evidence that, despite 40 years of a disastrous war on drugs, people, including Obama, continue to experiment with, and safely enjoy, cannabis.