I'm optimistic about the next four years. Here's why.
Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized marijuana.
These voter approved initiatives have removed major cultural roadblocks of precautionary thought about society permitting people to enhance their mood and their perception of reality. For a country as immature as the United States, this is a significant cultural realignment.
Most people I talk to accept the fact that all kinds of people from all demographics smoke marijuana. They reject the silly propaganda that marijuana use leads to degenerate behavior and social malfunction. Though they themselves may not smoke pot, more Americans have now come to realize that millions of their fellow citizens do and that prohibition of its use and distribution is no longer valid in the 21st century.
For years, the government lied about the effects of marijuana. They portrayed smokers as stupid, slow to respond, and reluctant to work. They wrapped marijuana use into the broader category of "drug use" to imply both physical and mental dependence on dangerous substances.
People soon realized that legitimate, legal drugs were far more lethal than soft drugs such as marijuana. They became more informed, having access to information online and in the media. They began to understand that marijuana prohibition robbed states of potential tax revenue and limited economic growth. To most Americans, prohibiting the use of this benign drug was beginning to become foolish.
There are people who use marijuana on a daily basis that have no problem performing in the work place or managing their lives. The more society became to understand this, the less likely it was to condemn the drug. Voters in Washington and Colorado realized that dispensing medical marijuana and learning the truth about its effect on users proved to be worth more in revenue than fines and imprisonment did.
The War on Marijuana has cost taxpayers billions and has had no effect on its use or distribution. Rather than waste revenue, Washington and Colorado citizens wisely decided to add to their state coffers rather than deplete them. By doing so they have opened the door to a more relaxed acceptance of marijuana as a substance used by millions to enhance their mood and the quality of their lives. More state legislatures will now be emboldened to follow suit. It will be interesting to watch others enact the same initiatives that Washington and Colorado have.