Pot Progress

Cannabis acceptance pushes further into the mainstream

click to enlarge Cannabis is being accepted in more parts of society than Willie's tour bus these days.
Cannabis is being accepted in more parts of society than Willie's tour bus these days.

FAIR | Following quickly on the heels of legalization (Oregon residents 21 and older could possess and cultivate marijuana as of July 2015), this year's Oregon State Fair in Salem will feature a new crop exhibit: prize-winning cannabis plants. As reported by the Oregonian, nine plants, 4-H-style colored competition ribbons included, will be displayed in a guarded greenhouse for viewing and not, to the disappointment of some, consumption. Fair organizers say mainstream acceptance of the plant justifies its inclusion. But that's not the case in Washington state, which legalized marijuana two years before Oregon. Stacy Howard, public relations manager of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, seemed shocked and laughed at the thought. Don't expect any such exhibit at the Spokane County Interstate Fair this September, either. "We're still a ways off from something like that," says Director Rich Hartzell, who notes that he hasn't received any related inquiries. "I'm kind of relieved," he says. "We'd need more clarity on legally what we can and cannot do." His caution is warranted: homegrown cultivation for personal use is still a felony in Washington. Oregon adults, however, can grow up to four plants, and those with a competitive streak can now chase bragging rights and blue ribbons at the state fair.

POLITICS | The changing landscape of American politics was writ large at the national conventions for both major parties last month, but more subtle shifts are also redrawing ideological lines. At the Democratic Party's platform committee meeting in early July, delegates supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders swayed the party to endorse a position that supports the removal of marijuana from the Class I Federal Controlled Substance list ("drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse"), which also includes heroin, LSD and psilocybin. The new stance's language cites "conflicting laws concerning marijuana, both on the federal and state levels" and the desire for "a reasoned pathway for future legalization" as justification for reclassification with the Drug Enforcement Agency. It's not a baffling evolution for the increasingly progressive left, but a new YouGov poll also indicates conservatives warming to the idea of ending marijuana prohibition. For the first time, more Republican voters than not (45 percent to 42 percent) back legalization. Their support may help a record number of related initiatives (in California, Montana, Nevada and four other states) that are expected on ballots this November. ♦

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