Any way you look at it, 2018 is going to be a very big year in the United States on the question of marijuana.
The stage for this was set on Jan. 1 when California, the nation's most populous state, became the latest state to legalize so-called recreational marijuana, but when we’re talking about recreational marijuana that means the sale, use, registering, growing, and possession of a limited amount of marijuana for personal recreational use ostensibly to be contrasted with medical use.
But the story, even in California, doesn't begin on Jan. 1. That was just the date when so-called recreational marijuana became legal there. We have to go back to the fall of 2016 when voters in the state authorized, by means of an amendment, the sale of recreational marijuana and the possession and use that goes along with it. But efforts to legalize marijuana in California go back at least to 1972 when voters turned down a similar kind of amendment.
What we’re looking at here is a major moral shift in the United States. We have tracked something very interesting on The Briefing and others have noted it as well. There has been a rather similar timeline to the legalization of marijuana and the normalization of same-sex marriage. Now the issue of same-sex marriage, redefining humanity's most fundamental institution, is a far more serious issue, but that's not to say that marijuana is not a serious issue.
One of the other things to note is that the moral change on marijuana is being driven from two ends of the age spectrum – that’s something unique to this question. Almost all previous big issues of cultural and sexual change have been driven by the younger generations. That's particularly true on the array of LGBTQ issues and the question of same-sex marriage, but on the legalization of marijuana it turns out that some of the baby boomers who were activists on the question in 1972 are once again, as are many younger Americans, especially on college campuses.
The legalization of recreational marijuana in California has not gone seamlessly. The voters acted back in 2016 and the legal mechanism supposedly gave a full year to 2017 for all the mechanics and regulations and allied legislation to be put in place so that legal marijuana could be sold in California beginning the first day of this year. But note this: There were no legal sales of recreational marijuana in terms of registered sellers or growers in cities in California including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Why? Because as it turns out, coming up with those kinds of regulations is not so easy as can even be accomplished in California in just a year.
As Colin Atagi reports for USA Today: “Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the cities where recreational pot will not be available right away because regulations were not approved in time to start issuing the city licenses needed to get state permits.”
On the other side, some California cities, including Bakersfield, Fresno, and Riverside have adopted laws forbidding recreational marijuana sales.
Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, offers a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview. This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.