Marijuana Is Going Mainstream

by Patrick Appel

At Hempfest, the Seattle Police Department handed out Doritos with a special educational message:

Reihan thinks the stigma against marijuana is fading:

[T]he deeper shift is not so much political as cultural. Pew has found that the stigma against marijuana use is quickly evaporating. In 2006, 50 percent of Americans maintained that smoking marijuana was “morally wrong,” a share that has fallen to 32 percent as of 2013. Not surprisingly, marijuana use has increased as the stigma against it has faded. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime reports that the annual prevalence of cannabis use has increased from 10 percent of the general population (persons 15-64 years of age) in 2007 to 14.1 percent in 2010. By way of comparison, the annual prevalence of cannabis use is less than half as high in Uruguay. Marijuana is no longer seen as a drug for people on society’s fringes, or the exclusive preserve of hippies and hip-hop devotees. It is used by an impressively wide range of Americans, many of whom use it for banal purposes like reducing stress.

For better or for worse, voters are far more likely to favor marijuana legalization if they think of marijuana users as “people like us” and not “people like them.” So I’d guess that marijuana legalization in some form is all but inevitable.