It’s been a big year for marijuana. First this article from the LA Times, then the most recent Gallup poll saying that now more than 58% of Americans support cannabis legalization – a whole 10% more than last year. The cherry on the pot sundae: Washington DC mayor Vincent Gray announced the city is likely to approve marijuana decriminalization early next year.
If Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s public apology wasn’t enough, this year’s news certainly sealed the deal. Its official – cannabis has tipped.
To understand why people are amazed at the speed that prohibition is crumbling, some useful context: The only other issue that has gained public support as quickly and nationally as cannabis legalization? Marriage equality.
With all the hype and all the press, there has been little explanation as to why. Why pot now? Even lawmakers, like California’s own progressive Lieutenant Governor – and presumed gubernatorial candidate — Gavin Newsom recently seemed stunned: “It’s amazing, really surprising, how quickly we seem to be evolving on this.”
Really? Is it really that “amazing?” The fact that cannabis and gay marriage share the same political velocity is not only unsurprising, it’s intuitive.
For much of the last decade, we’ve all been so beat down by the Great Recession that we were just trying to survive. It is only now, in late 2013, that we are able to stop the bleeding enough to survey the damage – and it is ugly. Sandy ugly. Katrina ugly. Fukushima ugly. We learned the hard way you can’t actually have it all. The American Dream was just that, a dream, a joint venture between Wall Street and K Street.
Americans, as a whole, have transitioned from being shell-shocked and defeated over the Recession to angry as hell. Supporting cannabis policy reform is a way to stick your finger straight up at “the man.” Weed is ultimate American anti-brand- it always has been.
We see the same pattern of rebellion and social revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. Fueled by deep anger at the mismanagement of the Vietnam War, social progressives harnessed the same civil discontent to propel civil rights to the national spotlight. Times of crisis fuel anger and that anger brews social revolution.
In case you live on the moon and missed Russell Brand’s most recent rant, here it is. It got 1.6 million views in less than 24 hours. He speaks directly to this truth. The system is rigged. Awareness is irreversible. Revolution is inevitable.
Anger is almost palpable in America right now. So is it really surprising that cannabis has such a strong momentum? Only to those who haven’t been watching. The more politicians act surprised, the more out of touch with real America they must be. Cannabis isn’t tipping as an issue only because it’s sexy, or only because it is an issue whose time has come. Cannabis is in the right place at the right time. It has struck a chord with Americans who feel betrayed and angry. And just as in the 1960s and 70s cannabis was part and parcel of a larger revolution, this is only the beginning – things are about to get messy. Thinking otherwise would just be naive.
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