Marijuana Is More Mainstream Than Ever, So Why Is Legalization Still Taboo?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 3, 2009

    As voters in several states head to the polls today to decide Governor and city council races it seems appropriate to ask: “Why are most politicians still inexplicably silent on marijuana law reform?”

    The recent legislative hearings on cannabis regulation in Massachusetts and California notwithstanding, the fact remains that these debates are the exception, not the rule. In fact, voters in Maine and Colorado will decide on marijuana law reform ballot proposals today (Note: Check back here tonight for the results.) precisely because their elected officials outright refused to vote on the issues when they were put before them.

    In short, prominent politicians continue to run away from sensible marijuana law reforms at the same time that the public is demanding them. Two longtime NORML allies, former High Times editor Steve Wishnia and former NORML Board Member Richard Evans, recently explored this phenomenon and offer some insight and possible explanations:

    Pot Is More Mainstream Than Ever, So Why Is Legalization Still Taboo?
    via Alternet.org

    Almost every voter under 65 in this country has either smoked cannabis or grew up with people who did. Among its erstwhile users are the last three presidents, one Supreme Court justice and the mayor of the nation’s largest city. The pot leaf’s image pervades popular culture, from Bob Marley T-shirts to billboards for Showtime’s Weeds.

    So why is actually legalizing it still considered a fringe issue? Why haven’t more politicians — especially the ones who inhaled — come out and said, “Prohibition is absurd and criminal. Let’s treat cannabis like alcohol”?

    One reason for the lack of urgent political pressure, says Deborah Small of Break the Chains, is that the people most likely to get busted for pot are the ones who “don’t have a political voice” — young people of color from poor neighborhoods.

    … Washington State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles says that many legislators, particularly in the state’s more conservative rural areas, “buy into the cultural stereotypes about marijuana,” such as the idea that it’s a gateway to harder drugs. The Seattle Democrat, who is sponsoring a bill to reduce the penalty for less than 40 grams of pot from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction, says … that law enforcement has largely opposed her decriminalization bill.

    Writing locally in the Massachusetts Daily News Tribune, Evans questions why none of the state’s major party candidates have reached out to the 65 percent of state voters who elected last year to decriminalize marijuana possession statewide.

    The Senate race and marijuana prohibition
    via The Daily News Tribune

    Odd, isn’t it, that all the U.S. Senate candidates, and the people who ask them questions trying to elicit their positions on issues people care about, seem to have forgotten that in the last election, a whopping 65 percent of the voters went for marijuana decriminalization?

    If that many voters care about the marijuana laws, why do these candidates, who claim to have their fingers on the public pulse, ignore the subject?

    Politicians report little “noise” on this issue, mistaking silence for indifference, not fear. People are justifiably fearful about writing a letter, showing up on a mailing list, even sending an email with the “m” word in it. They have to be very careful about their jobs, their drivers licenses and the kids in school whose parents will talk. But put them in the privacy of a voting booth, and stand back!

    … No living person is responsible for the marijuana prohibition laws. They were conceived three generations ago in a cultural and racial climate far different from our own, and very different from that to which we aspire.

    Are we ready for a serious, sober discussion about repeal, without the usual winks, smirks and puns? Can we handle it? Will someone lead it?

    And finally, speaking of “serious discussions,” it doesn’t get much more serious — and mainstream — than the persuasive and well-articulated arguments from longtime NORML-ally Jessica Corry, who has an amazing ability to tongue-tie both probitionists and Fox News hosts within three minutes! I’m just glad that she’s on our side.

    73 responses to “Marijuana Is More Mainstream Than Ever, So Why Is Legalization Still Taboo?”

    1. roller24 says:


      Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol

      Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971

      United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988

      To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

      This is the goal stated within the United Nations Charter.

      Yet since 1961, in complete contradiction of their stated purpose, the UN has
      established, strengthened, and help enforce a Convention, which has actually
      created “international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or
      humanitarian character”.

      Authority established by the THE SINGLE CONVENTION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS, has been directly causing the destruction of multitudes of lives by making criminals out of persons harmlessly involved in the use of marijuana.

      The most common sense observation plainly reveals, that all international problems presently associated, with cannabis, are not caused by the usage of the plant, but are directly influenced by enforcement of law.

      Cannabis having been overwhelmingly proven, to be safer than alcohol remains on Schedule I with much more potent, much more dangerous substances, like cocaine and heroin. Both drugs highly addictive and proven to be devastating, have earned their place within the schedule. Cannabis within Schedule I, is like placing a petty offender in a cell block with convicted murderers, rapists, and other violent felons. Which, is precisely what occurs on a daily basis by the agencies of member states, who enforce drug laws against casual and medical cannabis users. Otherwise law abiding people are jailed with violent offenders, merely because they have possessed a plant.

      Moreover, the hypocrisy, of a global double standard exists when the majority of persons involved in the incarceration of users of the plant. Many of them go home and consume alcoholic beverages which are far more narcotic than cannabis. There exists no rationalization today,for the continued prohibition of cannabis, which alcohol use does not exceed by substantial measure.

      In today’s world, legalization of cannabis would do far more to promote economic growth, than diminish it. Eliminating millions of public expenditures, now used to enforce drug laws, on the cannabis trade, would enable this spending, to be for much more productive agendas. Billions would be returned to the open market as cannabis would be removed from illicit commerce.
      Regulations and taxation could then, generate much more revenue, and ease the public burden by adding to the Coffers of their State.

      The time is now, for Article 3 of this Convention to be utilized in altering the Schedules, and using modern science to re-assess and determine the dangers associated with certain drugs, and not stereotypical fears of a bygone era.

      This petition hereby declares that all undersigned are in agreement with these stated principles, and demand that the basic human freedom of utilizing nature’s gifts to our perceived benefit, without bringing harm to another individual be recognized and upheld.

      The Undersigned

      Please make copies of this petition

      Collect signatures, give each signer a copy

      Ask them to do the same.

      Mail your signatures to the World Health Org, and the United Nations on April 20, 2010

    2. B says:

      To number 58 – actually, his facts aren’t fucked. Current taxes in proposed legislation such as the MA legislation, as well as prices in dispensaries, are still based on black market prices. Think about it: if a medical user in CA wants to get an ounce, but can’t grow it himself, and does not want to pay dispensary prices, where else will he go? The only other way to get it is still the black market. Why would the dispensaries lower their prices very far below black market prices? They’re operating openly and don’t need nearly as many customers at such high prices to turn the same amount of money.

      In an open, legal market, the retail price should much more closely reflect the cost of production, which, for an ounce of high grade, would be far below $50. Growing outdoors, the only costs of production are seeds (which can be produced for next to nothing and, in an open market, should not be anywhere close to $10 a seed), dirt, compost, and additives. Even a large hole won’t take more than $10 to $20 to fill, and if you put that much good soil in a hole, your plant should be huge. Although some strains require variations in nutrients and, therefore, soil mixtures, these costs should hold about the same for every plant.

      Most of the variability of cost will stem from how much bud a particular strain is capable of producing on a single plant. If you have one plant which, under good conditions, will produce a pound, and another which, under good conditions, will produce 2 oz, then an oz from the larger plant will be cheaper. Even if you use $5 of soil for the 2 oz plant and $20 of soil (a rather high estimate) for the lb plant, an oz of the first will cost $2.50 and an oz of the second a little over $1.

      Other costs, such as land to grow on, storefront space, and permits, will still exist, but in a legal market entrepreneurs will be able to get business loans, which, unlike investments in the black market, don’t need to be recouped immediately. Rather, the cost will be spread out over time, reducing how much return the investor absolutely must realize with any given crop. Additionally, operating in the open will allow producers to make more efficient use of their growing space (particularly outdoor fields), producing more per acre than illegal grows, which must avoid detection. Fifty acre farms are rather easy to spot from the sky. Given the economies of scale that even a small scale, legal hundred acre farm could produce, I wouldn’t expect a legal oz to cost more than $10 to produce, on average, and it should cost less.

    3. COWBOY420 says:

      Jes for Pres! I am moving west to get out of the backward thinking staye of Ohio

    4. Bart says:

      Way to go, I wish more forward thinking people would stand up and say what they realy think. Lets loosen the strangle hold, free up our courts and jails, get the tax dollars, and enjoy the FREEDOM to get high. This my friends is not rocket science WTF. Law or not I fire up any way. We need to organize a national march on DC and let the White House see what 10,000,000 people look like on the mall.

    5. packlama says:

      i am 52 and never learned too drink i can smoke a lot

    6. Rene Ibarra says:

      why is it everytime we talk about marijuana, they bring up another drug like heroine and cocaine? bringing up those drugs in the conversation just make marijuana look bad. anytime i hear this i think of all the prescription drugs and i wondered how is it these drugs don’t come into mind after hearing the word marijuana. and it’s simply because the government or the FDA approves of them. i’ve seen some commercials about pills that have side effects including suicidal thoughts and health problems left and right. and i wonder why don’t that person just smoke a joint, they’ll be fine and they don’t have to worry about any hardcore side effects. and as far as marijuana making you unable to drive or have good hand eye coordination, that’s complete bullshit. marijuana helps you focus and focusing on what you’re doing gives you better reactions.

    7. Casey says:

      I and millions more Americans would vote Republican for the rest of our lives if they got behind marijuana legalization. The right to bear arms.. less goverment intervention… free markets…. and the right to grow & consume a plant.

      In the next decade, Republicans are in line to lose election after election because of national minority growth, today’s freethinking youths and the moronic national spokespeople they choose to represent their party.

      I want my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Whichever party wants to give it to me first is the winner.

    8. Devin S. says:

      the biggest reason more politicians don’t take on this issue is there more concerned that they are committing political suicide and wont be reelected even tho the majority of the public is for decriminalization there more concerned about there image rather then the good of the country. This country needs all the extra cash they can get ,so between all our taxes being spent combating this comparatively harmless natural growing plant,and Incarcerating thou’s who use it. I think we would save a big chunk of change ending this war on cannabis and open it up to the free market put a reasonable tax on it and start climbing our way our of this astronomical national Debt our last “president” got us into.

    9. roaddog says:

      obama needs to step up and endow our country with liberty, by freeing all nonviolent pot offenders, he needs to say something along the lines of, xxmillions/thousands/ of people are to be freed today, for a crime that is not a crime, for doing something that was as american to our founding fathers as freedom itself, and then quote the quotes of it being illegal to not grow weed in virginia, its use as a fuelthat doesnt pollute ( the real answer to become independent of foreign oil) NOT TO MENTION THAT THIS PLANT IS THE ONLY PLANT CAPABLE OF PRODUCING ENOUGH BIOMASS RAPIDLY ENOUGH TO STOP GLOBAL WARMING BEFORE IT SETS US UPON A PATH OF CATALCYSMIC DESTRUCTION THIS MUST BE DONE SOON OR WE WILL FACE MAJOR DEVESTATION EVEN IF IT IS NOT AS BAD AS THE MOVIES IT WILL BE DETRIMENTAL TO MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AND MANY SPECIES OF ANIMALS (not to mention this viable comparison, if diesel = satan [in the oceans] then biodiesel = jesus]) maybe nto that much but it seriously doesnt hurt the ozone so it cantb e bad on the ocean. PROMOTE THE TRUTH THE ACTIVE INGREIDENST ALSO CURE CANCER CANNABSI SHOULD BE GROWN EVERYWHERE

    10. roaddog says:

      1776-1779 it was illegal to not grow hemp flowers in virginia

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