From Counter-Culture to Mainstream: The Marijuana Movement Evolves

As many as ten other countries around the world have laws drafted or pending that would legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana.

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Marc Emery returning to Canada a free man (Image Courtesy of CTV Vancouver News)

It’s not hard to remember a time when advocating for the legalization of illicit drugs was borderline illegal in many countries around the world. Even in Canada, which most people perceive to be generally rather friendly to free speech and political activism, laws were enacted to band the production of documents that discussed or advocated for legalization of banned substances like marijuana. That set the stage for a fledgling activist, Marc Emery, to begin publishing his own literature outside that legislation. His continued actions created a sort of counter-culture that firmly believed in the medical and recreational benefits of the drug, and his eventual arrest served as a symbol of an American War on Drugs taken to the extreme.

[quote_right]The movement now focuses not on counter-culture, but mainstream political battles that can be incrementally won and enthusiastically adopted[/quote_right]

Now, Emery looks like something of a visionary. Though it was hard to imagine even a decade ago, attitudes are rapidly changing on marijuana policy around the world. Canada has reformed its medical marijuana system, while two bills seeking mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking have been defeated. The “Vancouver Plan” further seeks to regulate the sale of marijuana rather than ban it.

Two states in the United States have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while dozens of others allow it for medical purposes. As many as ten other countries around the world have laws drafted or pending that would legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana. Polls show support in scores of other countries for similar actions. The movement now focuses not on counter-culture, but mainstream political battles that can be incrementally won and enthusiastically adopted.

Beyond Prohibition Foundation published an article on Marc Emery’s involvement in the legislation movement and hard work in the battle against prohibition. “The times, they are a-changin’. And we just might have Marc Emery to thank.”