Montana Pot ‘Mutiny’ Signals Prohibition’s Obsolescence
Touray Cornell lucked out when he went before a jury for possessing a small amount of weed. Instead of sending him to prison, almost all 27 members of the jury pool, the eldest of whom was in her 60s, said they wouldn’t convict someone for such a slight infraction. It was therefore impossible, said the judge, to hold a trial, a move that shifted the balance of judicial power toward the people.
County Attorney Andrew Paul described the jury’s insistence as a “mutiny,” while defense attorney Martin Elison described it as bizarre. Deschamps, however, took a more expansive view, and called the impasse “a reflection of society as a whole on the issue.”
There’s every indication average Americans are mellowing to the idea of legalizing marijuana. A Gallup survey from October, for example, found that 46% of Americans support legalizing the drug, a two-point increase from last year. And though the AP-CNBC poll from April showed less favorable numbers for legalization — only 33% in favor, while 55% opposed — it showed an overwhelming support for medical marijuana: 60% of Americans think cannabis should be used as part of prescription plan.
As public opinion becomes more accepting of pot, medical or otherwise, state laws too are loosening, with a number of states, most recently Arizona and California, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of weed, while Washington D.C. and 15 states, including Montana, now allow legal use of medical marijuana.
Montana voters also approved a 2006 initiative downgrading pot down to the lowest legal priority, and if this “mutiny” is any indication, residents of “Big Sky Country” are sticking to their green guns. The court had no choice but to give Cornell a plea deal.
“Public opinion,” reads the plea, “is not supportive of the state’s marijuana law and appeared to prevent any conviction from being obtained simply because an unbiased jury did not appear available under any circumstances.”
While some lawmakers and enforcement officials continue to decry pot as a “gateway drug” or as a catalyst for street violence, thus complication decriminalization and legalization efforts, the American people are seeing through the haze of anti-drug rhetoric and taking the law into their own hands.
It’s increasingly clear pot prohibitions are becoming obsolete, and the Montana scenario suggests drug laws may soon have to obey us, rather than the other way around. What a wonderful world that would be…