President Obama has already signaled he will use his State of the Union address Tuesday evening to kick off his version of the "Damn the torpedoes" years of his tenure.
The President is following the edict boxers know — always try to finish with a flourish if you want the judges to be kind. In other words, to secure his legacy, Obama needs to go out with a bang.
This is likely why we've seen Obama launch his executive action on immigration, normalize relations with Cuba, and announce his sweeping community college plan in recent weeks. It's also why the President should add a section about cannabis to his speech.
Some issues advance because of forceful and unifying leadership from politicians, but more often progress happens and politicians take notice. Gay marriage and relations with Cuba had evolved so far in the public debate that eventually courts and elected leaders came around in a way that was unforeseen even a few years ago. Marijuana policy is following a similar arc. Twenty three states and the District of Columbia have now have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. Most of these laws have come from citizen referenda and many of the states in question have Republican legislatures.