Shortly after the calendar flipped over to 2020 and recreational marijuana use became legal here in Illinois, I indulged, in the privacy of my home, with other adults, as the new law permits.
I felt compelled to appropriately mark the historic occasion. I couldn’t just let it slip away. That would be like not even bothering to look out of the window if Halley’s Comet was passing directly over my home. It’s not often that we’re alive for a milestone. We need to bear witness.
I’m neither a connoisseur nor a frequent consumer of the happy herb. I don’t think I’ll be going to any of the state-authorized marijuana dispensaries any time soon to make a purchase. I’ve seen on the news that there are people lined up around the block outside the dispensaries, standing in the cold for hours waiting to get in. Not me! I wouldn’t wait out in the cold for the Second Coming. Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton went to a Chicago dispensary on New Year’s Day and purchased some gummies. My guess is that she didn’t have to wait in line.
The push for legalization had strong popular support, too—it was backed by more than two-thirds of Illinois residents.
I’ll go to a dispensary on a day when there are no lines, which may be never. Within a week of marijuana being legal in Illinois, some $11 million in sales were recorded, and several pot shops had to temporarily shut down due to lack of supply.
I don’t use medicinal marijuana either. I could probably sign up easily. My disability is on the list of qualifying diagnoses. But that’s okay, I feel like I’m good without it. Thanks, anyway.
So I wasn’t active in this movement. I cheered from the sidelines. But as I indulged with my friends, I felt a strong sense of activist hope. And it wasn’t just the weed talking. Even though this law change doesn’t immediately and directly impact me in terms of access to cannabis, I still felt as if I was experiencing a cultural shift that will make my life and a whole lot of other lives better. The push for legalization had strong popular support, too—it was backed by more than two-thirds of Illinois residents.
I mean, if nothing else, we can all relax a little more. Not getting busted for consuming cannabis in a private home with adults gives us one less silly thing to worry about. Not long ago, admitting to past use of marijuana could ruin a political career. Now the lieutenant governor goes and buys spiked gummies for a photo op. That’s progress!
I know it’s not all rosey. Nothing ever is. This legalization may lead to other problems. Some people will get high and do stupid, destructive things. But people get drunk and do stupid, destrucive things, too. And Lord knows people who are perfectly sober also do stupid, destructive things.
And let’s not forget: Keeping pot illegal ruins lives, too. Think of all the people who have been sent to jail for simple possession or use.
So I am happy about the new law, in the larger sense. It means that activism really can make lives better. That’s always worth celebrating.