A Millennial Manifesto for Marijuana Law Reform

As our nation edges cautiously toward majority support for marijuana legalization, the millennial generation is leading the way more than any other demographic in history.

Our generation has experienced as much or more tragedy than any post-WW II generation with the exception of the baby boomers.  The difference is that boomers, who witnessed the assassination of  a president, a presidential candidate and a major civil rights activist and who lived through significant social and political upheavals, also saw huge social progress, the evolution of equal rights, greater consumer protection and the end of the Cold War.  Despite many bumps along the way, the economy remained intact for that generation, jobs were available and college was still affordable.

Millennials experienced on 9/11, the first major attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.  We’ve grown up with homeland security threat levels, we’ve witnessed massacre after massacre in our schools and in  public places that used to be considered safe (think Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, the D.C. snipers, Boston, etc).  As young adults, we’ve been confronted with an economy on the verge of collapse, a world plagued by terrorism, an expensive and proliferating drug war, skyrocketing tuition costs and a job market that is barely there.  Yet with all of that, we still believe in the glory of the America we were told about growing up.  That, “America is the richest, most powerful country in the world, where everyone has the opportunity to make money and achieve the American dream,” and despite everything going on now, we believe that it still can.

So why, you wonder, do so many millennials (65% according to the latest Pew Research Poll) support the legalization of marijuana in light of all these other issues?  It’s because we believe this is a serious national problem with a sensible fix and a positive outcome for everyone.  

  • We believe that marijuana prohibition negatively affects so many aspects of our society and we believe that reforming this senseless policy will actually help the American people and our economy.
  • We’ve seen the lives of so many of our friends and loved ones destroyed, not by using marijuana, but by the impact of its prohibition.
  • We know that the D.A.R.E. program is a joke.
  • We know that hundreds of millions of our tax dollars are wasted to support a criminal justice system that must track down, arrest, prosecute, incarcerate and then parole hundreds of thousands of non-violent and otherwise law abiding citizens, who are burdened with criminal records for the rest of their lives.
  • We know that our failed, and incredibly expensive war on drugs is destabilizing and corrupting governments south of our border, while enriching brutal drug lords.
  • We know that as long as marijuana remains unregulated, it will be far easier for an American child or adolescent to buy pot from a street vendor then it will be for that same child to purchase a beer or buy a pack of cigarettes in a store, where she is required to produce a government-issued ID.

Not only will legalization protect our brothers and sisters from unjust prosecution and a life tainted with a criminal record, it will also generate billions of dollars in federal and state tax revenues, and it will create a whole new industry in the U.S. which means more jobs for Americans.  While marijuana represented a symbol of rebellion and counter culture to the boomer generation of the 60s and 70s – today, for millennials, marijuana legalization simply makes good political and economic sense.  We made up about 20% of all voters in the last election, and are well on our way to becoming the largest generation in American history.  Each year that passes brings millions of new young adults into the voting population. If policy makers don’t take note of our growing influence over future elections and begin to support the issues that are important to us, we will vote them out and find ones who do.


9 thoughts

  1. “…vote them out and find ones that who do.”

    I saw on CSPAN that the military used data mining techniques quite successfully in Afghanistan. They are giving this technology to the DEA. No other issue has made me as concerned about government intrusion into personal decisions than the drug war. Marijuana is illegal, tobacco is legal. Most of us are able to make better decisions than this.

  2. You mean the first generation to live in a world where in seconds you can lookup all the info in the world on a subject… They don’t believe the lies?!!?! Gasp! /Sarcasm OFF

  3. What do millennials think about a simple definition of marijuana? Is that a wrong approach? Do millennials think that the current definition of marijuana is correct? Is it right to define marijuana with a racist mispelling and 104 words which makes you infer that the smoke is included in the list of prohibited things spelled out by that definition? What if “marijuana smoke” were just a redundancy, a play on words?

    Do millennials really want to reschedule that definition? Wouldn’t a simple definition make more sense, and be easier to reschedule? Wasn’t the Schedule 1 status originally supposed to be a temporary thing? Does it show respect for our Constitution to make the DEA to keep enforcing that definition?

    A commenter called txpeloton used to suggest that a simple definition was more respectful of our Constitution than the current definition. He said that this simple definition would actually show respect for our Constitution: “The term ‘marijuana’ means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L.” I am a just simple man, but I agree.

  4. This was one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. And right to the point. I’m a boomer and was a teenager in the 70’s. I have seen alot of people whose lives were destroyed by this stupid prohibition. So glad to finaly see things starting to change for the better. I am lucky enough to live in Colorado where our vote made history. I still worry though that the feds and prohibs might take everything we have all worked so hard for away from us. I will feel much better when all the pieces to the puzzle are in place and the first stores really open.

  5. At the heart of this tragic irony is Michelle Leonhart, Director of the DEA, our Tragic Heroine, whose hubris and hamartia was her testimony that “marijuana is not a medicine.” Please sign my petition at the white house “we the people,” site to eliminate the ability for any executive agency to legislate. Cops should not write law. Cops writing marijuana law is the climax of our tragic irony under the Controlled Substance Act.
    Asset forfeiture.
    Funds to deny that marijuana is a medicine.
    There is a reason we have three branches of government. Corrupt amendments like these and more are in the C.S. Act and we must stand together to end this violation of our freedom. Here is the link:

    End prohibition: End Cops writing law. Let’s begin an agricultural/ pharmacuetical revolution.

  6. Actually I know a huge amount of people who are pro legalization that were BORN in the 1940’s. In North Carolina(bible belt extraordinaire) of all places… Many are probably to afraid of cops to admit for any reason other than a vote.

  7. If those were stock market prices I’d buy in now. It hurt to see democracy die because of a plant. I don’t believe that there is anything “great” about America anymore since liberty was the main selling point. Anyway, thank you NORML for your continuing efforts and positive attitude.

  8. Yay! Some common sense!-All Americans can benefit and should stand up for this issue-Prohibition/enforcement of marijuana laws make our nation divided and less safe in a time where these resources could be diverted toward stopping violent crimes/preventing such attacks on our citizenry.-How do we even have the time to send police out to prevent smoking rather than crimes that affect the nation? What about the children?-marijuana does not endanger their lives: crazy people and terrorists do.

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