Potheads of the world, unite! Today is 4/20, the Christmas of the
national cannabis subculture. The "holiday" purportedly owes its date to a group of teenagers in San Rafael, CA, who coined the term after repeatedly meeting at 4:20 p.m. to hunt for a marijuana patch in the forest. That time has since evolved into a day marked by (among other things) columns calling for marijuana legalization. (The Atlantic Wire has previously tracked the legalization debate, and California's November ballot initiative to allow recreational use in the state.) Despite the polarized nature of American politics, this subject is one on which liberals and libertarian conservatives can agree, as writers from both camps are rallying
around the cause. Most Americans, however, still oppose legalization.
The Times, They Are A-Changing At Politics
Cohen says that on
this 4/20 "the end may be near for the much-whined-about era of
criminalized marijuana possession and use." With an increasing number of
states enacting medical marijuana laws and a renewed focus on the "enormous
economic potential" of legalization, it has become difficult "to justify
the continued disparate treatment between the two most popular
recreational drugs." Cohen
concludes that America is on a trajectory towards legalization:
"Judicial America is evidently quite indifferent to it. Law and Order
America is against it, but candid prosecutors and police will tell you
they don't like to waste resources on simple pot possession or use
charges. And now Legislative America sees all that taxable revenue just
waiting to leave the pockets of otherwise law-abiding consumer-citizens.
Blue Collar America seems pretty okay with it, too, according to the
What Polls Are You Citing?Greg
Risling of the Associated Press notes that the despite the large
numbers of Americans believe that marijuana holds medical benefits, a
majority still oppose legalization. According to a Associated Press-CNBC
poll, the primary concern is concern "that crime would spike if
marijuana is decriminalized or that it would lead more people to harder
drugs like heroin or cocaine." In the poll, only 33 percent favor
legalization while 55 percent oppose it. However, Risling seems to
corroborate Cohen's generational analysis: "People under 30 were the
only age group favoring legalization (54 percent) and opposition
increased with age, topping out at 73 percent of those 65 and older. "
'Put Down That Joint and Pick Up a Pen' Writing for The Huffington Post, retired Seattle law
enforcement agent Norm
Stamper encourages readers to throw off their pessimism that "the
willful inflexibility of special interests ... is simply too powerful to overcome" and take charge of
the legalization battle. "A successful legalization campaign in California
could catalyze a larger legal transformation across the country.
"Attorney General Eric Holder, with the blessings of President Obama, has
promised to honor the will of lawmakers in the individual states,
whether those lawmakers be legislators or citizen activists," writes
Stamper. "You don't have to be a Californian to strike a blow for
freedom and justice ... What happens in the nation's largest state will
certainly reverberate throughout the other forty-nine."
Think Of State Budgets Writing
at Big Government, Kristen
Davis explains her support for legalization, pointing to her
cash-strapped home state of New York as an example:
I approach the
issue of marijuana legalization as an economic conservative and
libertarian. It is an estimated $5 billion underground industry in my
home state of New York. I say legalize, regulate and tax it to create
new revenues so New York’s more regressive income and property taxes an
be cut. .... I
know talk of legalization of pot immediately sets off a clamor among the
anti-drug crowd, but their rhetoric is generally exaggerated, erroneous
or plain wrong. They are misinformed and the unfounded fears
surrounding marijuana use has stuffed our prisons full of nonviolent
people and saddled our state with outlandish incarceration costs for
'Keep Your Laws Off Our Bodies' A ReasonTV segment written and produced by Meredith
Bragg and Nick Gillespie outlines three reasons why the United
States should legalize. The argument follows Reason's characteristically
libertarian view on personal freedom: "we own our bodies and should be
free to eat, drink, and smoke what we want. And to take responsibility
for our actions, whether we're straight or we're stoned."
It's Time For Some Open Conversation Steve
Elliot at News Junkie Post calls for frank dialogue on the issues
surrounding marijuana legalization. The biggest obstacle to rational
legalization, he writes, is the negative stigma surrounding the drug.
honestly about cannabis has been to risk not being taken seriously,
to invite ridicule and stoner stereotypes, to risk dismissal from our
jobs, to take a chance even on losing our families and having our homes
taken from us — and to risk legal consequences including arrest and
lengthy incarceration. Why are the anti-pot forces so scared of an open
discussion? If the facts are on their side, why must anti-marijuana
zealots try to shut down the debate? If health is the issue, why aren’t
the extensive scientific studies considered relevant? If crime is the
issue, then why can’t we at least discuss alternatives to the failed
Whoa There, Dudes! Stephan
C. Webster at True/Slant gives a voice of dissent. He argues that legalizing marijuana could have a bad consequence for smokers--higher taxes. Although he expects legalization to have support from anti-tax libertarians, he worries that taking the plunge would lead to "insane
taxes" on the drug.
Webster concludes by saying that legalized marijuana would face the same tough enforcement it does now: "In other words, a
legal cannabis market could very well be controlled by the same bunch of
hard-ass, lizard-brain flat-tops that have been busting kids for
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