Prohibition is a cloak difficult to shed.
As the United States modernizes cannabis laws there are some who resist the change. Some have claimed cannabis is a danger for so long that, to change their beliefs now would require a change in their own personality. Those people use gilded hands to drape the prohibitionist’s cloak on the shoulders of each new person who ascends to power, in hope of maintaining the illusion of evil cannabis for just a bit longer.
Like a favorite piece of clothing, the American ban on cannabis has comforted those who sought an easy excuse to justify fear and hate. “Marijuana is bad!” those wearing the prohibition cloak say, to scientists who prove otherwise. “It is bad!” they say, to mothers whose ill children have found relief through the use of cannabis medicines. “It is bad!” they insist, even when government tells them there are no illnesses, deaths or dangers associated with the use of cannabis.
That cloak is a comfortable protector for some. Wearing the cloak absolves one of the dual responsibilities of education and personal evolution; there is nothing to know beyond the three-word response and there is no reason to change opinion, either. The cloak has become a shield against the elements of truth and justice, which both are raining down and cleansing our long-suffering society of an illness we should have cured long ago.
Michigan is a state with a ten-year history of medical marijuana and a newly-elected legalized adult use program. Just a few months ago the debate over cannabis and cars was seemingly quelled for good, as an impaired driving commission and the Michigan State Police determined that the history did not demonstrate a need for regulation and the science has not advanced enough for this state to adopt a roadside testing program. When one wears the cloak of prohibition, shedding science and common sense is as easy as flipping your collar up against the damp.
This elected official is not from a rural area where being a Democrat means adopting watered-down Republican dogma, she is from the largest urban area in the state: Detroit. That jeweled city has residents who have selected to liberalize cannabis laws each time the option has been presented to them on a ballot. The cloak of prohibition is a stout shield against popular opinion, against voting history, against responsibility to constituents. “It is bad!” the wearer shouts from within their invulnerable cloak, as they walk through life with eyes closed.
It is especially difficult to shed that cloak when special interests placed in upon your shoulders. When money and power are the things which command you, wearing the clothes those influencers gave you is part of the job. In Detroit, the religious minority wield power disproportionate to their percentage of population. Wearing the cloak they expect you to wear is a frequent habit for officials from that city.
But wearing the cloak of prohibition is a double-edged sword. It makes the Senator more attractive to a few but it alienates her from the many. It identifies her as a tool of power in a city where the people hate the existing power structure. It is a public display of an antique garment whose time of fashion has long-since passed.
Wearing the cloak of prohibition is a lonely task, nowadays. The Senator’s bill was introduced with zero co-sponsors. Democrats en masse have rejected the notion that Michigan needs a nanogram THC driving limit to ensure the safety of our roadways. Detroit voters elected medical marijuana before the state did, chose to decriminalize before the state legalized adult use of cannabis, and that city contains the greatest percentage of people in Michigan disadvantaged by the War on Drugs.
The cloak of prohibition performs like blinders on a race horse. It prevents the wearer from seeing the incarcerated, from recognizing the economic renaissance cannabis has proven to be, from experiencing the joys of greater personal freedoms. By suggesting we step backwards into an unnecessary impaired driving law the Senator isolates herself from her constituents, from her party and from popular support.
“I’m my own person, and I make my own decisions,” the Senator told the Detroit News, in reference to accusations that the political newbie is a “puppet” of her staff and other, more seasoned politicos upon whom she is dependent for advice and experience. But the cloak of prohibition is a garment fit for a single person; she wears it, she owns it, she alone bears the praise or criticism that comes with it.
For some, the cloak of prohibition is difficult to shed. For others it is a garment that never should have graced their shoulders. For a Democrat from Detroit, that cloak should have been rejected the instant it was presented.