Is the stigma of Cannabis fading?


Reihan Salam at Reuters thinks so;

As a general rule, Americans don’t give much thought to Uruguay, a small South American republic with a population of 3.3 million. But Uruguay has embarked on a new experiment with marijuana legalization that merits close attention. As Ken Parks of the Wall Street Journal reported late last month, new Uruguayan legislation will allow individuals to grow as much as 480 grams of marijuana for personal consumption, and marijuana cooperatives with no more than 45 members will be permitted to grow just over two plants per member. The government will also allow for limited commercial production, but Uruguayan lawmakers have made it clear that they don’t want a domestic marijuana market dominated by large for-profit firms.

Might the United States follow in Uruguay’s footsteps? Marijuana legalization seems inevitable—but we’d be wise to follow Uruguay’s lead and carefully regulate the kinds of legal marijuana operations that will follow.

It seems ludicrous, that researchers can’t study cannabis at universities but can study cocaine and heroin.

Support for marijuana legalization isn’t just growing in libertarian-minded western states. In April, the Pew Research Center found that a narrow 52 percent majority of Americans support marijuana legalization. This represents an impressive increase since 2002, when only 32 percent supported legalization. Support among adults born after 1981 has reached 65 percent, and as this cohort comes to represent a larger share of the electorate, it is easy to imagine that the pressure to legalize marijuana will grow.

But the 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. The question is what form it will take. Will we see a marijuana industry akin to the alcohol or tobacco industries, or will we try to keep marijuana production small-scale?


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  • blokeintakapuna

    It is such a waste for NZ Inc that the medicinal and every-day use properties of this plant / herb and that of it’s close cousin – hemp – is not rationally explored and debated by credible scientific bodies!

    Why? Follow the money…. The alcohol & tobacco industries have very deep pockets and well entrenched lobbyists… so too does the textile and paper making industries…

    Mankind has thousands of years of experiences and proven products as a result – yet for political reasons only, it is labelled “illegal”

    If Key/National really wanted to remove a major attack plank of the Left – all they’d have to do is announce the National Government will explore the medicinal, financial, social, employment and other aspect benefits of this plant – demonstrating to the Left that National/NZ is not a lap dog of USA politics.

    The up-side benefits will come as a complete surprise to many I’m sure. However – there is none so blind as those that do not wish to see…

    • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

      This is Green territory bloke….

      • blokeintakapuna

        Like the gays with “gay” – this Green is meant for everyone – regardless of political persuasion.
        Besides… only a capitalist-centric approach could leverage and maximise the full financial benefits to individual, group, community and society… but only if the law makers are brave enough to throw out the now-proven obfuscating rhetoric and explore the possible benefits for all of NZ Inc…
        Surely a Multi-Billion dollar “renewable” industry that could eliminate most unemployment throughout all the land, whilst generating a first-mover, Global market advantage is worthy of at least exploring further?
        My. Key promised a pragmatic government – let’s hope he delivers on this potential also…Mr. Key?…

        • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

          Mr Bloke – Key is done. So you may start to negotiate with the PM in waiting – Sheep. The Stranded are having a field day with the packed GCSB meeting yesterday in AKL and the latest Rogue Morgan poll…..

          • blokeintakapuna

            The Strandard eh… no thanks – i’m trying to digest food here…

      • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

        Most people who vote for the Greens only do so because they think that they will legalise marijuana. Whip the rug out from under them!

    • AnonWgtn

      More money in “legal highs” and P.
      Although still the largest cash crop in New Zealand in Northland.

      • blokeintakapuna

        “More money”… only because of the “scarcity/illegality” of this herb. If people were legally able to grow their own medicine in their own homes… the foot-traffic tinnie houses enjoy would evaporate…
        …and then the authorities could really concentrate on the P trade peddlers and manufacturers.
        I’ve heard in the past that Kaitaia only survives because of the black market cash crop that is pot. If so, why not help it thrive, by legalising it, taxing it and semi-controlling it – certainly much better than the current system…

  • Jessie White

    cannabis sativa, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and some cannbinoids have analgesic properties.

    The word analgesic derives from greek – without pain

    analgesic in english – pain killer

    analgesic is used to have analgesia – relief from pain

    This plant costs next to nothing to grow and would be the cheapest alternative drug for sufferers of back pain ,MS, headaches ,stress, and a multitude of ailments.

    The doctors visit cost $30 – $90 approx

    Prescription for synthetic drugs $3 – $25 approx

    repeats every 1-3 months.

    The Justice system of many countries make millions of dollars out of C S being illegal

    Why would they all want it to be legal.

    We are feed propaganda by the drug companies via media, doctors and law makers when in fact some or most of their generic drugs are harmful to the animals that drugs are tested on and the humans that take them

    Alcohol has had far worst consequences for our society.

  • Polish Pride

    To give a slightly different perspective. I have heard many say that their is no money in this as it grows like a weed hence the name.
    The fact is that for many experienced and mature smokers, enjoying marijuana (of which there are 1000’s different varieties) is very much like being a connoisseur of red wine. There are a number of different effects that can be experienced, different tastes, smells, smoothness, colours and so on.
    If you want a little more insight has a number of consumer reviews and even has the various strains categorized by effect both medicinally and well recreationally. Yes there are some idiots on there but reading the reviews there are definitely some connoisseurs too. Either way it makes interesting reading.
    If Marijuana were legalized, I would very much like the opportunity to go to a café or dispensary and select a strain to try either in a café itself but more likely in the privacy of my own home with my wife and a group of friends or even like minded family members.
    This would most likely be an every other weekend thing maybe less, maybe more but definitely not more than once a week.
    Sure at that time one could grow their own and that might be fun but nowhere near the fun and anticipation that would come with trying a new strain and seeing what experience it brings. For many white collar workers living in the main centers with disposable income. Why bother waiting months to grow some if you can buy it in its already finished form by someone who, well knows what they are doing.
    This could easily become a multimillion dollar industry in New Zealand and the taxes on it would be as for tobacco and alcohol.

  • thor42

    I think the stigma is gradually fading away. This is helped by the positive experience of Portugal in loosening its drug laws, and also the loosening of drug laws in a number of US states.

    If it *were* legalised, I wouldn’t smoke it but would try tinctures of it (and also cookies and massage oils).

    ( A tincture is an alcoholic extract of plant material. )

    I (along with a huge number of others) have hassles with insomnia, and I have no doubt at all that a cannabis nightcap would be a *huge* help with that.

    I reckon there could be a good market for a cannabis liqueur!

  • mk2_Zephyr

    Crock of shi.., this government has no intention of relaxing the bizarre outdated drug laws, and instead are on the verge of multiplying the THREAT, they all about the slam dunk police state and until we stand up and have a revolution, we will putting up with this bs for another twenty years …
    Free Mary !!!