There are encouraging signs arising from our nation’s courts, the federal government, state governments and the collective will of the people, all pointing to a more relaxed attitude regarding the legalization of marijuana.

But is Washington ready for such a monumental change in the country’s long established prohibition against marijuana? Many observers don’t think so. Not yet, anyways.

Despite the many encouraging signs, and there are many, very few politicians are willing to put their political careers on the line, at this point, strongly advocating the legalization of marijuana. Imagine a Democratic lawmaker running for reelection, on a platform to legalize marijuana; Republican opponents would have a field day.

Republicans supporting the legalization of pot would be sent away to a nice quiet sanatorium for a mental health break.

And yet, a recent Zogby poll showed that 52 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. A previous ABC News and Washington Post poll found 46 percent in support. A poll in California found 56 percent of its citizens supporting legalization.

At some point in time, Washington will catch up with public opinion, to institute some real change in the prohibition against marijuana, but political observers believe it’s a few years away. Although, the dramatic sea-change in the national conversation supporting legalization, is certainly viewed as encouraging by many legalization advocates.

Phillip S. Smith, editor of the Drug War Chronicle recently wrote a piece surveying the remarkable change in the social and political landscape favoring the legalization of marijuana. He noted that Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger even supports a “debate’ on the issue. However, Smith doesn’t believe legalization has a chance during Obama’s first term, with so many other dire issues on the table.

Thirteen states now allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes, and more states are considering the issue. The U.S. Supreme court on Monday, upheld the right of states to implement and administer their own medical marijuana laws, affirming the long held position that federal law does not preempt state medical marijuana laws.

The Obama administration announced it will no longer raid state medical marijuana dispensaries, as long as they comply with state law. The time is ripe for a change in marijuana legislation, but legalization advocates will just have to wait.

With the nation engaged in two wars, a financial meltdown of banks, a deep recession and President Obama committed to instituting universal health care during his first year in office, marijuana legislation is far down on the list of priorities.

Maybe the legalization of marijuana will have a chance during Obama’s second term.

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