In the minds of many millennials, marijuana legalization is inevitable; and Athens, Ohio is proving why.
My current residence (and where many "Jeff" readers can claim current or past residence) has recently passed a law de-penalizing the possession of marijuana. The Athens Cannabis Ordinance (TACO) passed with a 77% vote in the affirmative in a town representing a healthy constituency of the millennial generation. The median age in Athens is 22 years of age, (the rest of Ohio has a median age of 39). This means that the average Athenian voter is a millennial.
Why is this significant?
For several reasons. First, this vote effectively gave Ohioans a glimpse into the future. With a town of over 29,000 students, all millennials, our vote represents the thoughts of the generation who now make up the highest percentage of the U.S Adult population (over 75 million), and the generation that will soon be inheriting the country. Second, the millennial opinion is starting to have influence. Typically, the voice of a millennial was easy for older generations to ignore, however now that a majority of millennials have reached voting age; our decisions and opinions have become consequential. We now make up roughly 31% of the voting population and that percentage is only growing. Third, it builds precedent for more far-reaching legislation. Such as medicalization, legalization, or even commercialization.
We’re all aware of Ohio’s current battle for legalization, and although recent statewide measures to legalize have failed, smaller populations are starting to turn. The TACO bill did a lot by removing all fines/court costs against misdemeanor amounts of marijuana.
But our liberal bastion was not even the first Ohio city to make such progress. Similar laws have already passed in Toledo and four other Ohio cities including Newark, Bellaire, Logan, and Roseville. A trend is emerging, and Athens gives us the clearest insight into the future generations intentions.