This is Walt Mack.

Hash, weed, pot, grass, joint. You name it – just a few of the hundreds of slang words for marijuana that have come into the American lexicon. And there’s a good reason why.

It’s estimated that one in three Americans have experimented with pot or smoke it regularly. That would include two of our presidents who have confessed to trying it. For more than 40 years, marijuana has been banned as an illegal substance. As a result, hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens have been found guilty of possession, a felony under the law, and thrown into the slammer. Their lives ruined.

In comparison, Prohibition in the 1920s lasted only 13 years, and despite the valiant efforts of Eliot Ness to bash every barrel of hooch, bathtub booze flowed unabated at speakeasies and gin joints across the land.

A recent New York Times editorial calling for the legalization of cannabis, otherwise known as pot, has brought the subject to the forefront of public awareness and sparked heated debate.

There’s a strong movement afoot to legalize marijuana in one form or another. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have already legalized the recreational use of pot, and Oregon has placed it on the ballot for November. Tax revenues are enriching their coffers. In addition, 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana for medical use.

North Carolina has long been a laggard in sanctioning anything outside of conservative. It was a dry state for many years, and only recently approved the lottery. During that time, it has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.

In the 2016 Presidential election, many states including California are expected to place propositions on the ballot to legalize pot either for medical or recreational use. Perhaps North Carolina should consider doing the same. It’s not a question of if marijuana will ever be legalized, only when.