'Are policemen and punishment the answer to marijuana? Prison penalties for possession of the drug already seem out of line with (1) the social reality of millions of young people trying the substance and (2) the broadening scientific judgment that marijuana's physical and psychological effects, at least over the short term, may be no worse than alcohol — and may even be less harmful."
As reporter Bryce Crawford notes, you could easily see that paragraph in a magazine or newspaper today. But as it happens, it appeared in 1969, in the Milwaukee Journal.
Bryce came across that passage when working with intern Hannah Brenneman on this week's feature, a timeline focusing on marijuana's place in American public life. You may have heard that the long-running, touring drama puts Colorado Springs at center stage this week.
As we went to press Tuesday, Colorado Springs City Council was just starting a meeting that promised a decision on whether it would allow recreational marijuana sales. A moratorium was probably the best that advocates could've hoped for — but even if they got it, Mayor Steve Bach was reportedly ready with his veto pen. Nothing short of an outright ban will do for our city's top executive.
It's true that last November, Coloradans boldly answered the Journal's four-decades-old question with a resounding "No." Some saw it as continuing a sea change in American culture. But as history shows, when it comes to the demon weed, some power player will always be willing to fight the tide.