"The problem with marijuana is this," Ohio Gov. John Kasich explained to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show the other night, "We don't want to tell our kids 'don't do drugs, but by the way, this one is OK."
To which Colbert responded quite plainly and convincingly, "Isn't that what alcohol is?"
Kasich, who opposed Issue 3, the failed constitutional amendment that would have legalized pot in the Buckeye State, literally waves off the statement and then launches into a story about a 21-year-old kid in Mississippi who killed himself over drug addiction.
If this is what passes as legitimate political discourse on marijuana, it's no wonder that the war on pot has at long last lost the hearts and minds of Americans. Recent polls show that 58 percent of Americans (and 58 percent of Ohioans as well) believe that marijuana should be legal and regulated similar to beer, wine, and alcohol. (Issue 3 failed due its crony-capitalist features, as Jacob Sullum details here.)
Politicians in both parties will be the last to endorse where the people have led. With the exception of Rand Paul, who tends to couch his support for marijuana legalization in terms of federalism, and Bernie Sanders, who has introduced legislation to end federal pot prohibition, none of the presidential candidates for the two major parties is much in favor of recreational pot (Hillary Clinton, who said flatly at the first Democratic debate that she's against legalization, has recently endorsed changing marijuana's federal scheduling level in a transparent bid to co-opt Sanders' position somewhat).
The idea that anyone can still support the war on pot is staggering. From a pragmatic perspective, marijuana prohibition has been a staggering and multi-variant disaster, the policy equivalent of the Hindenburg explosion played out every second of every day in every town, city, county, and state over and over again. From a moral perspective, the notion that adult Americans should not be free to choose the substances with which they chill out, intensify their lives, or literally and figuratively change their minds is a standing affront to all the paeans to freedom and choice that politicians spit out like phrases from a talking doll.
Watch Kasich and realize that he is not necessarily the worst, only the most recent example, of a politician who is completely out of touch with where America is headed on the pot issue. And that while a pot prohibitionist of one stripe or another will almost certainly be the next president of the United States, whoever that is will almost certainly be the last such president too.