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May 1, 2012

Two notable new pieces on pot policy debates coming to mainstream politics

Two publications known for political and social commentary have these two new pieces on the modern politics of pot policy:

  • From The Atlantic here, "Gary Johnson and the End of Marijuana As a Fringe Issue

  • From The Huffington Post here, "The Marijuana Vote"

Both of these pieces merit a full read, and here is a notable excerpt from the latter one:

The "marijuana vote" is something that is virtually impossible to demographically study. It cuts across all the standard groupings of age, sex, occupation, living situation, ethnicity, race, religion, and economic status. It can't be studied, because its members are perpetually underground: What they do is illegal, after all, and who is going to admit to a random pollster on the telephone: "Sure, I smoke pot... I smoke a bunch of pot!" The marijuana vote does not advertise itself on bumper stickers ("I smoke pot, and I VOTE!") or with any organized political movement.  When people can lose their jobs (or worse) by admitting they're part of a demographic, then compiling stats on the group becomes impossible.  They are invisible, and their aim (under our current laws) is to stay that way.

In public life, admitting to smoking marijuana used to be an automatic disqualification for a candidate for just about any office.  Now, it is not.  Politicians are given a free pass on the issue; "When I was young and irresponsible... in college... I smoked some pot" does not disqualify anyone anymore from any office.  What I keep waiting for some intrepid reporter to ask one of these public figures is: "Do you think you would be where you are today if you had gotten busted for your marijuana use back then?" It's all about not getting caught, in other words.  If you smoked pot in a frat house and never got busted, that is one thing.  If you did get nabbed, well, sorry, but nobody's going to vote for you. How twisted is the logic behind that?  Politicians who skated by when they were young now approve a crackdown on the very same things they used to do (but escaped punishment for).  The stench of hypocrisy is impossible to avoid.

May 1, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

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Comments

"Support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age, ranging from 62% approval among those 18 to 29 down to 31% among those 65 and older." Eventually, the drug warriors are going to lose"


Just a matter of time!

Posted by: Anon | May 1, 2012 12:22:17 PM

Except, "Anon", those people in the 65-70 yr old range were in their 20s in the 1966-1972 timeframe, and a good bunch of them either inhaled then or knew people who did, and still did well for themselves. No doubt a good proportion of them bought the drug war lies. And no doubt the same thing will happen to enough of today's 18-29 year-olds.

Posted by: Bill K | May 1, 2012 1:24:01 PM

I'll offer this wager: Between the two of them (Obama and Romney), the first to make a campaign pitch to legalize dope is the one who'll lose.

Any takers?

Of course it's moot anyway, as we all know. Pot is justifiably so far down the list of what voters think about that it doesn't even register on the polling radar screen. And to the extent it does register, every poll but one, including the most recent poll (CBS), finds that a majority favors continued prohibition.

Newsflash: Most people are sensible enough not to smoke pot and they don't either do it or care about it. Wake up, people.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 1, 2012 2:45:00 PM

Bill,

In the age group 18-29 62% favor legalization. I guess we will have to wait and see what the people of Colorado and Washington have to say at the voting booths. I will add that I am some what discouraged by the people running the medical marijuana dispensaries, no way they want to see marijuana legalized.

I do agree with your statement about Romney and Obama. Romney would never call for legalization and Obama has flip flopped on the issue at least on the medical marijuana front.

As long as Judges, police, council members support the legalization of marijuana it is a issue that will be around for awhile, and when the 18-29 age group moves up into the next age demographic the support will only continue to rise.

Just for the record I do not use marijuana but think its time to end the drug war on marijuana. Maybe the people will wake up and end prohibition on Marijuana.

Posted by: Anon | May 1, 2012 9:19:50 PM

Anon --

"In the age group 18-29 62% favor legalization. I guess we will have to wait and see what the people of Colorado and Washington have to say at the voting booths."

Wasn't that what I was hearing a couple of years ago in California about Prop 19? What happened? Seems to me California voters count for something too, since there are more of them than in Washington and Colorado combined.

But let's assume arguendo that legalization wins in both states. That will make the score among the states 48-2, and with the feds, 1-0. And of course the 2 won't have real legalization either, since federal law trumps inconsistent state law.

"I will add that I am some what discouraged by the people running the medical marijuana dispensaries, no way they want to see marijuana legalized."

They've already quasi-legalized it, by their rampant disregard of what was promised (falsely) to be strict regulation to insure real medical need. It is precisely because of that disregard that the Obama-appointed US Attorneys have started to make arrests.

"As long as Judges, police, council members support the legalization of marijuana it is a issue that will be around for awhile..."

It will be around on this and other pro-defense boards, that's for sure. But it is not an issue with the electorate because (1) it affects such a small percentage of the population and (2) there are much more important issues affecting the well-being of the nation.

"...and when the 18-29 age group moves up into the next age demographic the support will only continue to rise."

Only people get more conservative as they get older. The Baby Boomers, who in their youth were the Age of Aquarius and put pot on the national map, are now the group most opposed to it.

"Just for the record I do not use marijuana..."

You have too much sense.

"...but think its time to end the drug war on marijuana."

But there is no war. Pot is quasi-legal in this country and everybody knows it. Visit any big college campus on the weekend. Yes, technically you can still get arrested for it, if you make a display, but vastly fewer than one percent of occasional pot users in this country get prosecuted, much less spend any time in jail. It gets people riled up for ideological reasons, not because it has anything to do with the daily life of the huge majority.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 1, 2012 9:54:16 PM

From Andrew Sullivan, in response to Jimmy Kimmel's question at the White House Correspondence Dinner asking who in the audience had never smoked marijuana:

"I was in the room and could barely see a single hand go up. These wealthy, largely white, power-mongers take their pot-use for granted, and yet young black and Latino youths and countless middle class pot-smokers have their entire lives ruined by an insane policy to combat a drug less toxic and less socially damaging than alcohol.

When Prohibition ends, what will history say of that generation in power?"


http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/04/truth-to-power.html?tw_p=twt

Posted by: Dylan (student) | May 2, 2012 11:34:46 AM

Dylan --

The idea that a person's life is "ruined" because of a misdemeanor conviction, for pot or anything else, is preposterous, as you would know if you were older.

A misdemeanor conviction creates some complications, true, every one of which can be avoided by the incredibly easy and painless expedient of refraining from pot to begin with until you persuade Congress to legalize it. You don't get to choose your own drug laws to obey any more than you get to choose your own tax laws to obey.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 2, 2012 2:47:04 PM

otis, such a stereotypical square block in a square hole statement

Posted by: rubrics | May 2, 2012 4:40:46 PM

rubrics --

When someone says something completely asinine, such as that a misdemeanor conviction ruins a person for life, then the rejoinder is very likely to be mundane, you bet.

Anything else?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 3, 2012 11:39:55 AM

well bill i have to call you out on this statement!

" You don't get to choose your own drug laws to obey any more than you get to choose your own tax laws to obey."


all i can say is BULL SHIT!

Our congress and govt do it DAILY!

Posted by: rodsmith | May 3, 2012 12:05:58 PM

I notice that no one is taking my offered wager.

Imagine that!

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 3, 2012 6:00:53 PM

simple. just vote Obama in, and get two supreme court justices appointed (2 are retiring) that are democratic, and swing the court from the current 5 to 4 republican. ultimately, the pot wars will all be decided by the supreme court of the usa. so, that is the foundation of success in the legalization battle. protect your back side, then wage the war on pot prohibition on a daily basis, today forward on all levels. just Don't vote for romney.

Posted by: jack smith | Jun 8, 2012 3:02:25 PM

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