Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

In Marijuana Policy, a Shift Toward Understanding

The government has been repeating the same message about marijuana for over three quarters of a century—that it’s a dangerous gateway drug—while Hollywood continues to get a lot of mileage out of the familiar pothead stereotype, avoiding realistic portrayals of marijuana users. The result? Too many people believe the propaganda, and we end up with overcrowded prisons and a whole class of people stigmatized—fearful of arrest, of being seen as some kind of burnout, of damaging their health.

Because of marijuana prohibition and the endless, futile War on Drugs, society has suffered.

As more people become informed of the facts, however, the tide finally seems to be turning. Medical marijuana is legal in 13 states, and society hasn’t crumbled. Quite the opposite. States that allow medically prescribed cannabis have seen an economic bump, not just in cannabis sales, but across related industries.

Steve Fox, Director of State Campaigns for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?, talked to the L.A. Record about the continuing struggle to legalize marijuana state by state, and about changing the way we talk about marijuana.

Of the politicians in Washington D.C. who are opposed to marijuana legalization, what do you feel is the breakdown between those who are benefiting from the anti-drug campaigns, those who are privately in favor but politically opposed, and those who are just legitimately opposed?
Steve Fox: Fear is probably the biggest reason of all. When you think of the American public and how they’ve been convinced that marijuana is a dangerous drug, elected officials are at a whole other level. Many of them have been convinced that marijuana is a dangerous subject for them. They just know from their little playbook that’s given to them when they’re running for office: ‘Here’s what we’re going to say when anything about illegal drugs comes up.’ I think it’s really going to take public pressure for many of them to change, and that is what our book is all about. The book is about giving people the confidence to be more outspoken. There are so many people out there that are supportive of changing marijuana laws or maybe even using marijuana themselves. In the past—though they believed that marijuana was safer than alcohol—they weren’t prepared to talk about it at length. Instead they would get caught up in talking about, ‘Well, this is a waste of government resources!’ We want to make the simple point that all you need to talk about is, ‘I should just be able to choose.’ Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. I should not be punished if I want to use the less harmful substance. We should be asking our elected officials why they want to force people to drink instead of using the less-harmful option, and make it about alcohol and not about marijuana.
When Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams got suspended for smoking pot and retired early, I thought the sports media really played up the pothead stereotype rather than discussing the fact that NFL athletes use toxic pills as pain relievers instead of the safer alternative.
Steve Fox: We’ve certainly been waiting for a situation like that, and while I was working on the SAFER campaign, we tried to push that as hard as we could. We even put up a billboard in Denver encouraging Ricky to come to Denver with the people who support his safer choice. This was based on the fact that we put an initiative on the ballot in Denver to make marijuana legal, and it passed. So we were glad, and we did get some national coverage from that effort. But discussion of the deeper issues just doesn’t happen. The same thing with Michael Phelps when the picture of him smoking from a bong was released. The ignored part of the story was that he was drinking heavily and hitting on women and being obnoxious, but nobody really cared about that. That part is ignored. But he takes one hit, and that becomes international news. People have to think about the fact that we are steering people toward alcohol for no reason.

Read the whole article here.


Related Articles:

The End of Stationarity

Welcome to the End … of Stationarity. And what is “stationarity”? We’re glad you asked.Scientists have devised a new term to explain the turmoil caused by climate change: the end of stationarity. It means that our baselines for rainfall, water flow, temperature, and extreme weather are no longer relevant—that making predictions based on past experience […] Read More

Bullshit. *Charisma, Icon, Intelligence, Empty Sandwich

How does the word “bullshit” connect to Charisma, Intelligence and the notion of The Empty Sandwich?To find out the answer to this question we meandered through David Fleming’s Lean Logic. A dictionary unlike any other, Lean Logic encourages readers to actively and intellectually engage with its entries. These entries are often cross-referenced so that you […] Read More

From Farm-to-Table to Farm-to-Everything

No longer restricted to the elite segments of society, the farm-to-table movement now reaches a wide spectrum of Americans from hospital and office cafeterias to elementary schools and fast-casual restaurants.Nearly a century ago, the idea of “local food” would have seemed perplexing, since virtually all food was local. Today, most of the food consumed in […] Read More

The Three Cs of Farm-to-School

Most people know about the three “R’s” – reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, have you heard about the three “C’s”?If you, or your kid, is at a school that takes part in the Farm-to-School movement, then you may already know about them.October is National Farm-to-School month, and in their book Farm to Table, authors Darryl […] Read More

“Rules for Revolutionaries” Offers New Political Playbook for Activists

A riveting behind-the-scenes look at the “rules” used by the “revolutionaries” who helped harness the volunteer power that fueled Bernie Sanders’ historic, and insurgent, presidential campaign.Authors Becky Bond and Zack Exley led the Sanders campaign’s efforts to recruit and engage volunteers at an unprecedented level, which was crucial to the Vermont senator capturing 46 percent […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By