Cannabis consumers, as much as any group, have seen their lives concretely improved over the past 20 years. And how'd they do it? Voting.
This midterm, four states are voting to legalize adult-use or medical marijuana. In a handful of other states, local municipalities are voting on scores of local marijuana issues.
There's an argument out there that says, no matter how you vote, the lizard people who run the universe are going to do whatever they want. And Denverite Jordan Person knows this feeling.
"I used to feel the same way," said Person, a massage therapist. Apathetic and angry but unengaged, yelling at the Facebook feed.
No matter how anyone votes, it seems, areas like health care and the economy appear sort of fixed, sort of static.
But that's not true with weed. In about 30 states, voters have given themselves legal weed.
No politician gifted it to them. No illuminati warlock waved a wand.
This was a self-emancipation, self-change.
In legal states, a pot smoker can feel the improvement in the air like a fog. Step into a dispensary in Colorado, Oregon or Michigan and the old-school pot-lover will be overwhelmed by choice and quality her younger self couldn't have dreamed of — even while stoned. Flowers, edibles, extracts, lotions, vape pens — all at cheaper prices than the dogshit ditch weed she got years ago — which you still get in prohibitionist states.
After weed became legal in Colorado, Person became one of thousands of people who moved here because of the cannabis laws, leaving Florida so she could use cannabis for a health issue and to start a business doing cannabis massage, Primal Therapeutics.
Now, she's happier.
"I live in a place where freedom exists," Person said. "I came here as a medical marijuana refugee, and I don't have to hide who I am from anyone."
She's now head of Denver NORML — the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and she's working to change the marijuana laws — for other sufferers and survivors and cannabis users, yes, but also for herself, so she can have a brick-and-mortar spot to do cannabis massage, which is currently against the rules.
"Being an engaged citizen changed everything for me," Person said. "Remembering that if you live somewhere where you have no rights, or you want more rights, the only way to get them is to be part of the process and vote."
Only four states are directly voting on cannabis in statewide elections — Michigan and North Dakota on adult-use, Missouri and Utah on medical.
But in every state, there are politicians who embrace weed with a big ol' hug and politicians who want to stamp out roach butts with the heels of their cowboy boots, and a regular person can choose which one she wants to vote for.
This great guide, CannabisVoter.info, tells you how politicians in every state have voted on cannabis. While Democrats are typically more cannabis friendly than Republicans, the website will show you that a number of Republicans are very pro-weed.