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By Raoul Duke

I was somewhere outside of Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when I heard the news. Recreational marijuana is legal in two states of the US, Washington and Colorado. Possession and sale – it’s all legal, and taxed. Wait, what!? – was my first reaction too.

Before we go any further, let’s remember that Prime Minister Julia Gillard admitted to trying marijuana in her university days. I’ll admit I have tried it too. So have Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, George Clooney, Michael Bloomberg, Sir Paul McCartney, Barbara Streisand, Al Gore and Oliver Stone, which the Huffington Post compiled into a fun online picture book. The true list is probably endless, and none are criminals in my book for smoking a little pot.

Marijuana use is ubiquitous, and nowhere more so than in Australia. Earlier this year the ABC reported that marijuana use in Australia is three times the global average, and that marijuana is by far the most commonly used illicit drug around the world.

Prohibition doesn’t work – fact. Can we move on now, or is someone still passing round that 1950s hymn sheet about some war in some place in the world called Drugs? Is there hope we might spark up on St Kilda beach legally for a change? Not today, but maybe we can catch that wave of legalisation the US seems to be on.

What happened over there?

When Americans went to the polls to re-elect President Barak Obama, they were also asked to vote on a host of referenda. Each state had their own. California for example asked voters if they wanted to keep the death penalty. They did.

Washington and Colorado on the other hand wanted weed.

Connecticut and Massachusetts voters were asked if they wanted to legalise marijuana for medical purpose. They did.

This brings the number of states where medical marijuana is legal to 18 plus the nation’s capitol, Washington DC, which is not considered a state – fun fact no. 478.

The consequences of this are earth shattering, not just for the local pothead who spends half the day on his moms couch watching TV, but also for Mexican drug barons and the boarder guards with whom they cross swords, and also for correctional facilities, and not to forget sufferers of cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, anxiety, depression or obsession.

This is no joke. A top advisor to Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto said that legalisation “changes the rules of the game in the relationship with the United States” in regards to anti-drug efforts, the Washington Post reported.

What impact will this have in Canberra? It’s a non issue for the press gallery. Perhaps they are asleep at the wheel. Perhaps they don’t care about the same things Australians care about. Perhaps they don’t care about the forth estate. The Drum conducted a poll, where over 35,000 Australian voted, and 70% said Australia should follow Washington and Colorado’s lead and make marijuana legal.

What have our leaders in Canberra said about this? Very little. And the media giggles away at it all. But I am not disheartened. There is a growing sense that a more responsive government is possible, one a little less child like, more mature in its handing, wiser in its foresight – the dawn of a new enlightenment.

Some say San Francisco, in the middle sixties, was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe they are right. Maybe it is right now. You can strike sparks anywhere.

There is a fantastic universal sense that whatever we are doing is right, that we are winning. And that, I think, is the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense – we don’t need that. Our energy will simply prevail. We have all the momentum – let’s ride the crest of a high and beautiful wave.

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