Marijuana is, as a practical matter, already legal in much of California, says the New York Times.No matter that its recreational use remains technically against the law. In many parts of this state, pot has become the equivalent of a beer in a paper bag on the streets of Greenwich Village. It is losing whatever stigma it ever had and still has in many parts of the country, including New York City, where the kind of open marijuana use that is common here would attract the attention of any passing law officer. “It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. “These are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it.”
Marijuana can be smelled in suburban backyards. In some homes, it is offered at the start of a dinner party. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger listed the acceptance of open marijuana smoking in a list of reasons Venice was a wonderful place for his morning bicycle rides. With so many people smoking in so many places, “you just inhale, and you live off everyone else,” said Schwarzenegger, who signed a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. A Field Poll of California voters in 2010 found 47 percent of respondents saying they had smoked marijuana at least once, and 50 percent said it should be legalized. The poll was taken before Californians narrowly voted down an initiative to decriminalize marijuana.