By now, everyone knows that this year's US Presidential election
is historic, unprecedented. But the brouhaha
over who will be President
is covering up some other major weirdness from this year's election.
Sure, there was the dead guy who was elected, and the first First Lady to be a senator. But even stranger was this year's drug laws. The US has quite a bizarre relationship with its illegal drugs. Despite draconian seizure laws, an expensive "war on drugs", and a demonstrated willingness to lock up a significant portion of the population in prison, the US has been about as successful in getting its citizens to stop recreational use of drugs as it has been in getting them to stop disobeying traffic speed laws.
The result of this has been a government that passes stricter and stricter laws on drugs, and a citizenry that attempts to weaken those laws with ballot measures:
In my home state of California, citizens passed a drug law reform initiative that stipulates treatment rather than jail time for first- and second-time offenders.
Just to the north of me, Mendicino county passed an initiative that legalized pot growth for personal use. It probably won't stand, since it directly counteracts state and federal law. But what a statement!
Both Colorado and Nevada passed medical use of marijuana initiatives. (In a move that clearly shows that this isn't just a liberal thing, Nevada simultaneously passed a measure to amend their constitution to specifically prohibit same-sex marriages. Those wacky Nevadans!)
Finally, Alaska had on its ballot the most sweeping drug initiative I've ever seen. Had it passed, it would have re-legalized hemp and marijuana usage, treating it like alcohol under the laws. It would have also granted amnesty to people previously convicted of marijuana crimes, and convened a committee to study the possibility of restitution for them. It failed, but it got 40% of the vote. Wow!