The War Isn’t Over: Legal Marijuana in Colorado Inspires More Progress

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I watched my friends and colleagues prepare for the big day of legal adult recreational sales of marijuana in Colorado from the highly restrictive medical marijuana “Garden State” of New Jersey with joy in my heart.

We have seen incredible changes in the past few years with the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and I-502 in Washington state. I still know we have a world of work to do but it is a lovely thing to have more states moving to legalize in 2014 and 2016. And there’s more reason for my hope: Uruguay authorized production and sales of marijuana and  is inspiring its neighbor Argentina to follow suit (we hope),and hemp had a fantastic year in 2013 as well, so as an activist I am again allowing myself to feel the moment as Colorado wrapped up the first day of sales and at the publishing of this story, is beginning Day Two of Legal Cannabis.

These feelings inside — the mixture of celebration and relief after the initial sale of cannabis to PTSD sufferer Iraq War veteran Sean Azzariti — is not just about cannabis (although quite a bit of it is), it is more so the proof that hard work will redeem some modicum of freedom that at times we may have questioned still existed. It really was not a pipe dream, this is reality!

Wanda James & Friends

Wanda James (left) last October at the Drug Policy Alliance Conference’s ‘Victory Walk’ demonstration. PHOTO: Diane Fornbacher/Ladybud Magazine

Wanda James, owner of the popular Denver southern fare restaurant Jezebel’s, was pivotal in bringing the issue forward along with hundreds of other brave and forward-thinking individuals said yesterday, “Today, I will light up legally. What is more important, is that today the cops will not bust down a door in Aurora, kill the family dog and drag the parents out of the house because of a plant. Today, the courts will not take parents from their families for the ‘good’ of society. Today, the Prison Industrial Complex lost a good chunk of its labor force in Colorado. Great victories indeed!”

As I scoured social media yesterday, I saw many of my Colorado colleagues surrounded by cameras from news stations around the world, and they were smiling at the early beginning at what would prove to be a non-stop, highly trafficked day with literally hundreds of people in line awaiting their chance to be a small part of this new beginning on New Year’s Day 2014.  I also noticed many more local friends and family members who had privately agreed with me start publicly ‘liking’ many of the feelings I had, and stories about yesterday that I was reading. Surely, they must know that doing so would put it on their news feeds for all of their contacts to see and for once, they did not care to hide their reflections.

Toni Fox

Toni Fox selling medical cannabis to a patient last fall. PHOTO: Diane Fornbacher/Ladybud Magazine

Indeed, it was a monumental day and even while I sit here misty eyed and listening to Matisyahu sing “Fire of Freedom”, I’ll not celebrate without paying homage in my heart to all those who will never live to see this day, or patients who still in most states cannot access medical cannabis and let us not forget those who still languish behind bars waiting to maybe one day be free.

Yesterday was one victory — and a rather large one without a doubt, but press on we must with the same resolve that achieved these great heights we reached and now we will do so with renewed vigor. We can achieve more of these victories and redeem our country and indeed, the world. I look forward to seeing more of the population joining our ranks and bringing about much needed change to this country for again, it is not only about cannabis alone — it is about redemption of the human rights we were promised and ones in which I truly believe.

In the words of Matisyahu:

“I’m keep on goin’ keep on rising,
Elevate your mind it’s all in the timing —
Tonight we leave in the streets we scream…
I said let it all ring!
I said let it all ring!”