Marijuana: The Political Class vs. Everybody Else

Marc blogged the other day about the New York Times editorial board’s endorsement of repealing federal marijuana prohibition, just months after having rejected that step. Now, this isn’t quite the same as endorsing marijuana legalization – just returning it to the states – but it is a significant step nonetheless. Still, they are well behind the rest of the country. An absolute majority of Americans favor legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana more or less like alcohol. Liberal Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor.

Fivethirtyeight recently showed how out-of-step the New York Times is by comparing their position to that of representative Americans with a similar demographic profile. Money quote:

[P]eople with this demographic profile are somewhere around 25 or 30 percentage points more supportive of marijuana legalization than the average American. That implies that back in 2000, when only about 30 percent of Americans supported legalization, perhaps 55 or 60 percent of these people did. The margin of error on this estimate is fairly high — about 10 percent — but not enough to call into question that most people like those on the Times’ editorial board have privately supported legalization for a long time. The question is why it took them so long to take such a stance publicly.

The political class everywhere, regardless of left-right ideology, has been vastly more opposed to marijuana legalization than equivalent Americans. Here in New Hampshire, Democratic governor Maggie Hassan has not only opposed and promised to veto recreational marijuana legalization, she has also opposed and threatened to veto marijuana decriminalization and even allowing terminally ill patients to grow their own medical marijuana plants. Her spineless copartisans in the state senate have gone meekly along. And is anyone really surprised that government bootlicker David Brooks opposes legalization? It’s no accident that the only two states to legalize recreational marijuana so far have been states with the popular ballot initiative. It’s also no accident that medical marijuana started in states with the popular ballot initiative. The people have had to go around the controllers and neurotics in office.

Now the Brookings Institution has come out with a study of marijuana legalization in Colorado. Their quick synopsis? The regulatory implementation has worked. marijuana_list In other words, the state has overall been successful in its efforts to implement the regulations on marijuana as written. The study takes no position on whether marijuana legalization was a good idea or not, limiting itself to investigating how effectively the state is enforcing marijuana regulations. However, the evidence so far also suggests that crime has fallen as a result of marijuana legalization. (Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of marijuana legalization are likely to be ordinary people in Mexico and Central America.)

You don’t get any more “establishment” than Brookings, but I have found that their scholars generally go where the evidence leads them. How long can it be before the control freaks in office bow before evidence and the will of the people?

10 thoughts on “Marijuana: The Political Class vs. Everybody Else

  1. Hassan is The Devil.

    Rand Corp. is arguably more Establishment than Brookings. But when you add together the drug enforcement bureaucracy as well as the mental health rehab bureaucracy– ONDCP, NIDA, SAMHSA, etc.–you start to wonder how much opposition isn’t being paid?

    For all the folly and mischief that shall constitute the bulk of Obama’s legacy, if he decides to smash up the Drug War in his last two years it will count for something good.

      1. For all of us pragmatic pro-liberty types, New Hampshire may be the most frustrating state for marijuana reform.

  2. The entire “drug war” set up allows politicians to amass power. With the ability to invade privacy and seize assets that fund police purchases, it is an addiction that will be hard to break.

      1. So, it looks as though there is no way for NH residents to get a question on a statewide ballot. It would be nice if MPP* (who are the only game in town, really) were to try to drum up support for having legislators attempt to get the question before the voters. Surely some silver-tongued populist could beat the drum on this issue, right?

        I mean, who could be against vox populii?

        *- Yes, I understand they have have limited resources that must be carefully stewarded. And sure, I bet they’ve thought of this themselves and run the numbers, and decided that there were more attractive targets. But this still seems like a missed opportunity.

    1. The mere fact that marijuana has been illegal for 70 years does not mean people have not been consuming it throughout that time.

      P.S. The left got marijuana banned to begin with.

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