January 19, 2018 West Hollywood, Calif., and Tybee Island, Ga.—West Hollywood is painted with rainbow flags. Known as “The Creative City,” this counterculture hub is set in rolling hills, thrumming with thrift stores, vegetarian restaurants, and, since Jan. 1, four dispensaries selling recreational cannabis.
The most populous state in the union, with 39 million people, started allowing legal recreational pot sales three days before the Justice Department threatened to step up enforcement of federal prohibition.
As people waiting in a line outside West Hollywood’s MedMen brush off a rainstorm, Iain McDonald, an actor and Lyft driver from Australia, says he’s puzzled by what he sees as a “war on California.” “When they say state vs. federal – as an outsider – that doesn’t feel right,” he says. “The other countries I know would try to work with their states, not fight them.”
On America’s other coast, at the eastern terminus of historic Route 80, the Tybee Island Lighthouse throws shafts of light into a foggy night as war veterans gather at American Legion Post 154.
The post commander, Chuck Bolen, Jr., a Vietnam War veteran, leads a group of vets mostly living the retired life, who largely voted for President Trump.
But when asked about the American Legion begging Congress to deregulate marijuana to possibly help soldiers in pain, Mr. Bolen shrugs in agreement. In his experience, he says, weed is not a gateway to harsher drugs, but a potential “exit drug” for veterans addicted to opioid pain medications.
To the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, both