By Conor Friedersdorf
Election 2012, the Marijuana Majority project, and the rapidly changing politics of drug prohibition
Voters in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington will decide on election day whether to legalize marijuana in their states. All three initiatives have a chance of passing, and two are ahead in polls. In Massachusetts and Arkansas, voters may legalize medical marijuana. And last year, a Gallup poll found that a majority of American voters supported legalizing marijuana for the first time.
The political taboo against marijuana has been fading for awhile. When Bill Clinton admitted he’d smoked weed as a college student, he felt the need to add that he hadn’t inhaled, and observers still wondered if it would cost him votes. Barack Obama admitted that he did inhale as a teenager. Yet his personal history with narcotics hasn’t stopped him from presiding over a draconian War on Drugs and responding to several questions about drug reform with jokes.
It’s hard to believe dismissiveness of that sort can last much longer. A state measure legalizing marijuana would signal a huge shift in public opinion and force the federal government to react. And whatever happens at the ballot box this November, a clever nonprofit is highlighting the fact that more and more prominent people of diverse ideological backgrounds say reform is needed. “Marijuana Majority exists to help more people understand the simple fact that supporting commonsense solutions like regulating marijuana sales and ending marijuana arrests are mainstream positions and that there’s no reason those who support reform should be afraid to say so,” the organization states on its website, which features a lot of faces you’d recognize: