Christopher Neely here, thinking about how far our society has come in reshaping our understanding of cannabis.
Cannabis has had top billing over the course of many 20th- and 21st-century eras, from Reefer Madness in the 1930s to the 1960s counterculture and the catastrophic war on drugs in the 1970s that caused generational problems. I remember how, back when I was in elementary school, cannabis was almost the only drug talked about during the since-discontinued Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. Then, slowly, research began to prove some interesting medical uses for the plant that spurred medicinal legalization and now, recreational legalization in 19 states, as well as Washington D.C. and Guam.
How cannabis became such a controversial plant in the first place is for another story and another time. But things have changed—it’s worth noting that cannabis has won the hearts of voters and polls nationally. The latest poll in April from Pew Research Center showed 60 percent of U.S. adults surveyed think cannabis should be legalized recreationally. With such clear support, it makes you wonder about the process of government and allowing the people, as a whole, to decide what is best for them.
Cannabis has had its own journey on the Monterey Peninsula. That journey culminated last night with Monterey’s City Council voting 4-1 in favor of staff beginning the work to bring “three or fewer” recreational cannabis dispensaries to town. They highlighted some locations as well, including downtown with the exception of Alvarado Street; the Lighthouse Avenue district and Cannery Row with the exception of the actual Cannery Row strip—basically Wave and Foam streets.
How many dispensaries the city will get and when they will get them remains vague. Three voting members, Mayor Clyde Roberson and Councilmembers Tyller Williamson and Alan Haffa, supported at least two dispensaries with the door open for a third. Councilmember Dan Albert