Is the stigma of Cannabis fading?

marijuana-plant

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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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