The Hill: America’s New Marijuana Zeitgeist

Via The

Writing last week in, 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 (, 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.

0 thoughts

  1. 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?

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. As Rudy and others said “10 years is way too long”
    We can’t wait that long, NOW IS THE BEST TIME NOT LATER!
    Our economy is really bad as it is and people are losing their jobs by the thousands, By the time 10 years pass there will be nothing left and the whole marijuana reform will be forgotten like it did when Nixon hit office.
    Do all of you really want to wait another 70 years plus?
    This is way too serious to wait on this, this needs to be done NOW!
    If FDR can rid Prohibition on Booze in less than a month, so can we.

  9. Hey Johnny D….by the same token, if for instance there are 2 million people that buy an ounce of pot each month for $100.00, that’s $240 million dollars that would be spent right here in the U.S., especially if we were allowed to grow our own. Of course I feel these are very conservative numbers but it only makes sense that it would help the economy by not sending our dollars to the cartels. And I agree with you about donating to NORML. Lets get this done ASAP. LEGALIZE POT!!!

  10. The way our legislative system works is if the legislators think it is good for them they will do the will of the people.In my state (Oklahoma) the legislators in the district I live in are more worried what the Democrats are doing ,than what the people want,they are all GOP here.Case in point,I have emailed them twice daily since Ron Paul asked for co-sponsors for HR1866, Industrial Hemp Farming , not one response not one phone call,nothing.So don’t think you in other states have it bad. KEEP ON KEEPING ON.LEGALIZE

  11. I don’t think it’s going to take another ten years. The Great Depression ended alcohol prohibition, This new Greater Depression will end marijuana prohibition.

  12. Another reason why it will gain support, because once again (repeat of 1970s oil crisis) it is “cool” to GO GREEN.

  13. Tennessee Activist (#10) got it right on the money. Once the social climate surrounding marijuana changes and enough people support legalization, it WILL happen.
    We HAVE to change local state laws in order to make any progress here. Once people see that legalizing marijuana on the local scale isn’t the nightmare they believe it will be, they will be more open to national legalization.
    Just try to fuel the fire however we can. NORML needs to start funding advertisements and events to get people better informed. We need more events like the Seattle Hempfest in every city. Just keep fueling the fire.
    Continue to write to your legislators. Even if they’re afraid to support legalization or are against it, they will eventually cave in when enough of their votes depend on it.

  14. plz plz texas needs your help are state reps know nothing about marijuana and there ganna vote on hb 902 plz plz plz e mail the Criminal Jurisprudence House Committee in texas,all the members and let themknow the truth. thanks

  15. David (#11)
    “WE,” are not the stupid ones, it’s the politicians. If we controlled our own lives, marijuana would have been legal decades ago. Have you ever noticed that when ANYTHING is placed before government politicians, all of a sudden things are complicated?

  16. Let’s put our money where our mouth is. Join NORML. I have always been a supporter but never a member. that changes today. I have always worried about someone finding out but I no longer care. Join today and be proactive in support of leagalization.

  17. Of course it should be legalized. I like to smoke a bowl in the evening after work. I don’t drink or smoke cigarettes and I don’t feel people like myself should have to hide to hide or be ashamed of our recreational use of marijuana. What I do in my house is my business as long as I don’t hurt anyone

  18. Great research you’ve done on this article, NORML. I loved the succinct list of commentators from across the mass media spectrum. Keep up the good work. Unfortunately, I’m too dirt poor to make a donation right now.

  19. Paul Armentano,
    Thanks for the message in the previous blog. After serious thought on the subject of what it will take for all States to legalize marijuana, I’ve come to the conclusion that most readers are missing one very important fact. Once ONE State in the Union legalizes marijuana for sale to the public, more States will follow much faster to legalize MJ.
    Is that why National Organizations are concentrateing on States like California & Massachusetts with all their support like the sun and a magnifying glass? Makes good sense to me.
    People who don’t live in one of the thirteen states with marijuana programs are feeling a love loss from NORML, left out and hopeless. Moving to another State just isn’t an option for many of us at present.
    Please Reply,
    Hopeless TN Activist

  20. Hey everyone,
    NC has introduced a MMJ bill today!!! write your legislator for support and call NC Gov. Beverly Perdue@ 919-733-4240
    Global Moderator
    Posts: 17
    Medical Marijuana Bill in NC
    « on: April 08, 2009, 10:54:50 PM » Quote
    We have worked hard and tomorrow, April 9th, 2009 the NC Medical Marijuana Bill will be introduced into the house of representatives. This bill will provide safe, legal access to cannabis for patients and researchers, makes room for caregivers and patient/growers, as well as producers who will sell to dispensaries. This bill will also create in excess of $65 Million Dollars for NC each and every year and will grow over the first several years.
    Unfortunately as more baby-boomers age, they will need the preventative benefits of cannabis to ward of parkinson’s, alzheimer’s, macular degeneration of the eyes, swelling from arthritis and many other illnesses.
    Luckily, the lawmakers of NC realize this is not just a moral obligation, it is a constitutional obligation and the right thing to do for the sick and suffering citizens of their districts and our state as a whole.
    We are lucky to have caring, compassionate lawmakers who care for their citizens and their rights to equal treatment and protection under the law.

  21. Thanks Paul, for another excellent post. The number of comments to Paul’s well penned essay are already up to 110, compared to 0 for the posts before and after his.
    NORML has been so kind as to publish thge link to my letter campaign before and I hope that they may do so again. The ass media are still burrying their heads in thr sand, hoping that we will go away quietly. The local ABC affiliate’s refusal to open the debate is a sign of this.
    It is only 11 days from 4-20 and I’d like to urge allk of you to write your letters and mail them to your elected representatives and other officials. Thanks to all who are participating in the dialogue and thanks to NORML for their work.
    Happy Easter to all…


  23. Hang in there Paul. Soon as 1 removes it’s political head from their a$$, then the rest will follow. It’s gonna take perseverance but the end of WAR is near.

  24. If I have to move away from home just to be free of arrest then the prohibitionists have won.
    To be feally free we must win freedom for all. The fight isn’t over till all are free.
    The dominos will fall once one or two states opt for legalization. Continue the local push and write your fed legislators every day. something’s got to give sooner or later!

  25. science, logic, reason… compassion.
    Why is this too much to ask from our government?

  26. please help support AB390 in california and whichever one is going on in massachusettes. it is gonna be very confusing though sure hope obama can convince americans and congress he was a dumbass on the issue and it actually makes so much sense for so many reasons to end the doomed to fail war on cannabis and hemp.

  27. Just make yourself heard with the TEA PARTY. .. Over 170 party goin on April 15. Check on your local area, get your sign ready. MORE FOOT WORK. A great chance to tell them that they done let the dogs out..Humm I wonder who will be there?

  28. God Bless Carlos Santana. I just read on CNN that he supports legalization. Let’s all buy tickets to his New Vegas Show starting May 27th and let all the stars that are closet smokers or supporters see what happens when some one like Carlos does the right thing and does the right thing supporting legalization!!!

  29. does the right thing does the right thing I must be stoned lol My medication has wonderful side effects!!!

  30. The legalization of marijuana is no laughing matter. When president Obama laughs about this issue, he is laughing at me and millions of other Americans that voted for him.
    The only aspect in this particular political controversy that is laughable is the fact that it’s 2009 now and marijuana is still illegal! Lets cut the crap and get with the program together at last America!

  31. Even if eveyone of us gathered in one place, at one time, with a billion-trillion dollars, nothin will change. We will always be ignored, luaghed at, and descriminated against. We might as well get used to the “back of the bus.” Sorry, but we will never be accepted in America, or earth for that matter. This is just the way of the world…

  32. RE: #44
    Donate WHAT?!?
    – My WORDS, (and meager technical-skills), are all I have to offer…
    The economy’s NOT improving fast enough!
    – Life’s a big headache,
    yet truly safe, effective relief is still forbidden!

  33. So lets see, Making it illegal is to protect me and make me a better citizen… so when I was arrested and sent to prison and lost my high paying job, let out of prison with $100 thousands of miles from my home, with a record that keeps me from getting a good job… now explain to me how this helped me in life, oh yeah, and was beated and had my arm broken and had to live in fear of being killed every day in prison for smoking pot…

  34. random: i hate people who think alcohol is less harmful than marijuana. their ignorance disgusts me.
    fuck the corperate world, they just want our monies

  35. Pot would become legal in a few months if pot heads everywhere were to start spreading the seeds everywhere causing it to grow uncontrolably.
    I don’t understand why all of these organizations that are allegedly fighting to legalize it will not simply campaign the people to start throwing seeds.

  36. It will be like the Berlin Wall.
    Drug proibition,is a monument to human stupidity.
    The real criminals,are in the streets,big cars,nice girls,money? no problem.
    On the other side,my neighbor schoolboy son is in jail
    for 5 years.He never harmed anyone,but was unprepared to
    deal with cops and gangsters.He was just triyng some fun 🙁

Leave a Reply