The United States has been waging a so-called “war on drugs” for nearly the past half-century. In that time, the usage of all controlled substances identified by the federal government has actually increased among average Americans, most notably in the case of marijuana. Identified as a “subject 1″ drug, the plant is identified by the government as having no known medical uses, a high risk of abuse by those who obtain the drug, and extremely dangerous when used by the average American. This just doesn’t align with reality.

Arrests Made for Show, While Laws Have Changed Dramatically

The current American policy on marijuana dates to the administration of former President Richard Nixon, when the drug was largely criminalized as a political statement designed to thwart Nixon’s civilian critics outside the Oval Office. Since then, the federal government has arrested small-time users and buyers of the drug as well as people like Marc Emery, who was extradited from Canada at the request of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Emery’s crimes, according to the U.S. government, include distributing seeds needed for marijuana growth, funding the pro-legalization movement, and more.

The problem is that this policy, and the drug’s “schedule 1″ classification, are all a bit hypocritical. In the decades since this policy was enacted, and even as it has been enforced ever since, science and medical research have proven marijuana to be beneficial rather than dangerous, and medically valuable rather than a potential source of abuse.

Legalization is Becoming the Law of the Land

Marc Emery’s arrest is largely viewed as a symbolic way to once again demoralize the movement working against the political status quo, especially in the area of legalization of the drug. That hasn’t worked: In the past several years, the states of both Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana. Other ballot measures on the issue have come close to passage in California, while legislation in states like New York and Oregon is currently pending and would legalize the drug for medical and recreational use or possession. Countries around the world, including Uruguay, have legalized the drug or have made it “de facto” legalized through a lack of prudent enforcement in recent years.

All of this begs the question: How long will it be until the United States stops its attempts to make political statements against those who use and distribute the drug, and start embracing its benefits for medical use, recreational enjoyment, and tax augmentation? One hopes the change comes soon, but so far there are very few reasons to expect a marijuana sea change in America.