The Hill: America’s New Marijuana Zeitgeist

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 8, 2009

    Via The Hill.com

    Writing last week in Time.com, Joe Klein became the latest in a steady stream of media pundits to call for the legalization of marijuana (”Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense”). That’s right, ‘legalization’ — with an “L.”

    While the notion of regulating the sale and consumption of cannabis for adults might still induce reflexive giggles from the Oval Office, the issue is no longer a laughing matter among the public.

    Lawmakers in two states — California and Massachusetts –- are debating the merits of taxing pot like alcohol, and a pair of recent polls (here and here) indicate that Western voters endorse this proposal by a solid majority. According to statistician Nate Silver, national support for legalization could reach “supermajority” status in just over a decade!

    Why this momentum now? Klein sums up three primary reasons.

    1) Americans are spending billions in judicial resources arresting and prosecuting minor marijuana offenders; these monies could be better redirected elsewhere.

    2) America is in the midst of an economic recession; taxing marijuana could redirect criminal justice costs toward more serious crimes, raise tax revenue, and greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the involvement of drug cartels in the illicit marijuana trade.

    3) The use of marijuana by adults is objectively less dangerous — both to the user and to society as a whole — than the consumption of alcohol. (Case in point: Drinking alcohol, even low to moderate amounts, was recently associated with elevated incidences of cancer, particularly among women. By contrast, a study published last week in the Clinical Journal of Investigation shows that cannabis kills malignant cancer cells.) It is illogical to endorse a public policy that arbitrarily prohibits the former while embracing the latter.

    Of course, Klein is hardly the only mainstream pundit as of late to jump on the marijuana ‘legalization’ bandwagon.

    In the past days, leading commentators like David Sirota (The Nation), Kathleen Parker (Washington Post), Paul Jacob (TownHall.com), Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker), Andrew Sullivan (The Atlantic), Glenn Greenwald (Salon), Debra Saunders (San Francisco Chronicle), Leonard Pitts (Miami Herald), John Richardson (Esquire), and Margery Eagan (Boston Herald), have all opined in favor of regulating cannabis. In fact, Americans’ sudden support for legalization is even beginning to draw attention from those outside the United States.

    As well it should be.

    American’s support for marijuana law reform is fast approaching a tipping point — a scenario made all that more remarkable when one considers that the federal government has spent nearly seven decades propagandizing against it. Mainstream America is coming to terms with marijuana, and growing more and more dissatisfied with our nation’s failing pot policies. Writes Klein: “Obviously, marijuana can be abused. But the costs of criminalization have proved to be enormous, perhaps unsustainable. Would legalization be any worse?”

    He’s no longer the only one asking.

    As always, please post your feedback and comments to The Hill by going here. Congress is listening; tell them what’s on your mind.

    55 responses to “The Hill: America’s New Marijuana Zeitgeist”

    1. DRE says:


    2. Johnny D says:

      My friends, I believe the 10 year scenario to SuperMajority will hold true UNLESS all of us who have a stake in the legalization of Marijuana step up and donate! Then it could be much faster! Plesae tell me if I’m wrong!

      I imagine a day when I no longer have to fear harassment, arrest, incarceration, asset forefieture, or other consequences of this unjust projibition!

      Imagine if 20 Million regular marijuana smokers each gave $10 to NORML. How much more lobbying and education would that buy? I think $200 Million dollars would get us there!

      So how about it? Let’s all put our dollars behind our own liberation!

      I don’t want to wait 10 years for legalization. Do you?

    3. Rudy says:

      A decade is to long to become a super majority we need to make this change now!, Everyone assemble in D.c on 4-20-09

    4. Jerry Moler says:

      I wonder if our elected officials see this tidal wave of truth that is headed thier way? FDR lifted alcohol prohibition on his 19th day in office. As a result the government gained control of alcohol and reduced organized crime greatly by removing thier largest source of income. We would realize these same benefits if the President would lift prohibition of drugs. This is purely a medical and personal rights issue and not a legal one. LIFE, LIBERTY and the pursuit of HAPPINESS. As a veteran these are the things that I was standing up for. Give us our freedom to choose back.

    5. tt says:

      lets quit being stupid.

    6. The Oracle says:

      I definitely do not want to wait another damned 10 years for a supermajority in order for it then to be legalized. Now is the time to make the Hegelian steps forward. That’s plural, steps.

    7. SAINT RICO says:

      I enjoyed reading this article. EXTREMELY well written!!
      It sure would be nice if my wife didn’t have to feel like a criminal for using weed to help calm her anxiety/chronic stomach pains. When we have a hard time locating some(weed); it is difficult for her to eat regularly—weed helps her with this problem, but, gives her no ill side affects. Well, here’s hoping guys.
      Legalize it

    8. Rudedog says:

      I keep trying to tell my pot head friends the day is coming,try to get them in the fight. They laugh ans say legaization wont happen,so I just keep showing them evidence like this to get them to join. Its starting to work.

    9. Aaron says:

      hell yes. great news. bowl:30!

      one love, aaron

    10. If I could take EVERYONE’S marijuana away from them right now and state that you can’t have it till legalization is final, I’ll bet we would all have legal marijuana before the end of this year.

      The one thing that seperates us all from obtaining legalization is the American attitude of accepting reformed marijuana laws. Our Nation as a whole doesn’t realize what truly must happen before marijuana is made legal for personal consumption like other regulated substances on the market. Only time and growing numbers of marijuana advocate will change the present marijuana laws. This fact is evident in many other Countries, like Israel. If the majority of the population agrees to change it’s present laws, it will change with very little resistance. What politician would turn votes down at election time?