By the time recreational marijuana usage became legal in California, on New Year’s Day, the government’s official permission seemed, for many Californians, like a belated, nearly irrelevant formality. Twenty-two years of ready access to medical marijuana had made casual consumption—a pull off a vape pen on the walk to dinner, post-prandial pot chocolates circulating in the living room, a THC strip tucked under the tongue—no more remarkable than an aperitif. Actually, less remarkable than a drink, because everyone knows that alcohol is bad for you (kills your stem cells, gives you cancer, makes you grouchy, paunchy, gray), whereas, increasingly, the industry is equating conscious marijuana use with sublime good health.
In the state of California, in recent years, thousands of people—disproportionately people of color—have been arrested or jailed on marijuana-related charges. (Under a provision in the state’s marijuana