Just doing some random thinking here…
One of the obstacles we’ve faced in the past is what we might call the “soft” support for legalization. By that, I mean that there were a lot of people who seemed to support legalization, but were either afraid to talk about it publicly, or considered it a kind of “future consideration” issue — one they supported privately, but didn’t consider important enough to give public support (“we can’t spend political capital on something like that right now when there are so many other important issues” was a common thread on liberal websites, for example).
It seems to me that we’ve done a pretty good job of breaking through that barrier. Partlly with groups like LEAP and SSDP and others, talking about legalization has become more… acceptable to people, and with the emphasis on violence in Mexico, etc., the immediacy of the issue has increased.
So now, with two states passing legalized marijuana, all those who have supported legalization, regardless of how soft their support, feel empowered, which will help dramatically with future efforts.
So, it’s time to look at the opposition to legalization, and I think we can show that it’s soft as well. Other than the die-hard prohibitionists and those who profit from prohibition, the general public that opposes legalization is unlikely to feel strongly about their opposition. They’re opposing legalization, for the most part, because they think they’re supposed to – after all, the government has told them to.
But we know that the opposition is soft — for proof, simply look at how wide the range of poll numbers is depending on how the question is asked. If people’s opposition changes based on the wording of the question, it’s very soft.
I’m already seeing some anecdotal evidence of friends who are speaking positively of the votes in Colorado and Washington as something important — and these are people who never talked about marijuana publicly before.
We could theoretically see a rapid growth in poll numbers for legalization nationally, simply because the voters in those two states validated the topic. It’s no longer some pot-head pie-in-the-sky dream, it’s state law.
Regardless of how easy or difficult it is for Colorado and Washington to implement their new laws, the laws already have major impact. They’ve emboldened countries around the world, validated the views of legalization supporters and may cause the dissolution of soft opposition.
What does this mean for those of us who are fighting for more than the legalization of cannabis? Well, I’m optimistic there as well.
While opposition to marijuana legalization has been soft, that hasn’t been true when it comes to opposition to legalizing other drugs. We’ve always known that legalization of other drugs will be a much tougher battle and will take more time to build support.
However, one of the great things about the cannabis legalization movement is that we have succesfully linked it to the evils of prohibition. I’m seeing so many articles that are essentially saying that we should support legalizing marijuana because the drug war is so destructive — not “the war on marijuana,” but “the drug war.” That’s a great foundation for future efforts.