Until recent years, marijuana prohibitionists have been able to intimidate most reform-minded politicians by simply threatening to brand them as “soft on drugs.”

But finally, thanks to determined activists and broad support from the general public, politicians are starting to use common sense when it comes to pot.

Already, 32 states have legalized medical marijuana in some form or another. And in last November’s election, voters in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia opted to join Colorado and Washington in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Even Congress is starting to climb aboard the cannabis common sense bandwagon.

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Lollyman/Flickr

Tucked into the 2014 Farm Bill was an amendment allowing universities, colleges, and state agriculture departments to grow research plots of industrial hemp — a species of cannabis that’s a cousin to marijuana but produces no high.

From West Virginia to Hawaii, 10 states already have laws on their books to allow for this.

That means our country is finally “advancing” back to the 1790s, when George Washington and Thomas Jefferson considered hemp America’s most beneficial crop. Oh, progress!

Congress also included a provision in its December federal spending bill to stop the DEA and the Department of Justice from going after states that legalize medical marijuana.

Federal agents can no longer raid licensed marijuana outlets that service patients who use the drug to treat everything from the side effects of cancer treatments to epileptic seizures. The marijuana farmers that serve these businesses are now safe to cultivate the plant, and the patients themselves are now safe from prosecution for possessing it.

But with federal pot prohibition still on the books, we’ve got a long way to go.

Marijuana Policy Project and Vote Hemp are two organizations that are working with the public and our lawmakers to change the laws and regulations surrounding cannabis. Connect with them at www.mpp.org and www.VoteHemp.com.

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Jim HightowerBy

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower LowdownOtherWords.org