I have been covering state-legal marijuana as a writer for many years. Though I do not use marijuana myself, I am fully supportive of medical cannabis for qualifying conditions like cancer, PTSD, and chronic pain. I am still up in the air on recreational use. All of that said, I find it hard to escape the irony of it all.
The irony of which I speak is evident on multiple levels. It exists at the state level when regulators choose language that softens the blow of state-legal marijuana. It also exists at the state level where regulators expect residents and businesses to obey the law while they thumb their noses at Washington. The irony even exists among marijuana proponents who sincerely ask consumers to be model citizens when they consume marijuana. It is all too much to bear at times.
Softening the Language
Softening the language is a common tactic when you are promoting something controversial. It isn’t limited to just marijuana. But where marijuana is concerned, the vast majority of states with state-legal programs in place prefer the word ‘cannabis’. Here is the problem: cannabis is a type of plant with multiple varieties. Both hemp and marijuana are types of cannabis.
Out in Utah, where Beehive Farmacy operates cannabis dispensaries in Brigham city and Salt Lake City, the state is very particular about the terms ‘marijuana’ and ‘dispensary’. They do not want either term used by government officials or business operators. They prefer ‘cannabis’ and ‘pharmacy’. Ironically, not a single pharmaceutical product is sold at any of the state’s licensed medical cannabis pharmacies.
Enforcing State Laws
A bit higher up on the irony ladder is the practice of states enforcing their own cannabis laws while simultaneously violating federal law. Never forget that marijuana is still illegal under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Marijuana is illegal to grow, process, distribute, or possess.
How ironic that states have extremely strict possession laws they hold their residents to. If you are caught possessing more than the allowed amount, you could face fines, penalties, and even jail time. All the while, state lawmakers simply ignore the fact that they have decriminalized an illegal substance. They are breaking the law while requiring residents to obey it.
The Call for Model Citizens
Last but not least, it’s not unusual for pro-marijuana groups to issue calls for users to behave as upstanding, model citizens when using marijuana. A good case in point is a concert that took place in Illinois in early September 2023. The two-day event was organized around the concept of legal marijuana consumption in public.
Event organizers encourage participants to behave themselves. They even went so far as to publish the following statement on their website: “Let’s show everyone what a responsible and respectful community we are by adhering to these rules and regulations.”
Once again, you have a scenario in which the powers-that-be request that people obey local and state laws while ignoring the federal laws they don’t like. They want participants to be model local citizens but federal rebels.
Not a Unique Situation
On the one hand, it is easy to observe what happens in the pro-marijuana movement and laugh over how silly it is. On the other hand, it’s also sort of sad in the sense that the inconsistencies are not limited to marijuana. The marijuana community is not in a unique situation.
Ironies abound in the U.S. They abound because we have spent the better part of the last 50 years annihilating moral standards. And when you do that, everyone gets to do what is right in their own eyes.