By Tom Angell
When savvy public policy advocates realize they've lost an argument with the voters, they shift their position. That's what marijuana prohibitionists are doing today with a just-released survey.
In a groundbreaking new report, the Partnership at DrugFree.org admits that "support for medicalization and...for decriminalization and legalization of marijuana is widespread" and even provides new poll numbers demonstrating that the majority of Americans support allowing medical marijuana for approved patients and further want to remove the threat of jail time for marijuana for all adults.
In another gift to marijuana reformers, the Partnership admits that "support for each of these scenarios increased by anywhere from three to 11 percentage points when survey respondents were given more information about what medicalization, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana means." It's true: People are more likely to support marijuana legalization when they understand that it's not about creating a reckless marijuana free-for-all and is actually about effectively regulating and controlling the marijuana trade in way that improves public safety compared to the obvious disaster of prohibition.
Indeed, the main thrust of the new report is to try to begin shaping what the legalization of marijuana that we all know is coming to more and more states will actually look like. With last year's historic victories in Colorado and Washington, prohibitionists now know that they have lost the public debate about whether marijuana should be legalized, so they're shifting ground and trying to make sure the regulations that are enacted are as least offensive to them as possible.
The Partnership report focuses heavily on highlighting parental support for maintaining the prohibition on providing marijuana to children and restricting its use in public places where tobacco smoking is now banned. Very few mainstream marijuana policy reformers will find reason to pick a debate with the Partnership on these issues. The survey also reports voter support for heavily restricting the advertising of marijuana products. While many reformers would not support an outright ban on advertising, I think most would agree it probably makes sense to at least consider some kind of regulations that prevent the glorifying of marijuana in media that are easily accessible to children.
It's incredibly significant that a major player in the prohibitionist movement is now conceding that legalization is no longer a question of if but is only a matter of how.
In another bizarre concession, the Partnership (formerly called the Partnership for a Drug-Free America) provides new data indicating that parents don't seem to think its own decades-old anti-drug advertising campaign has been a particularly effective way of educating children about marijuana, compared with other means of communicating with kids. Only seven percent of those surveyed said that television advertising is the most effective mode of "providing useful and accurate information to help young people make informed and positive choices." This is compared to 45% who said parents themselves are the best source of this education for children, 20% who picked schools and 13% who said kids should seek out info from other young people.
In other words, the Partnership at DrugFree.org just released a study essentially making the case that kids are better off getting information about drugs from one-another than they are from the Partnership's expensive advertising campaigns.
Almost every sentence of the new report provides fodder to marijuana reformers who want to make the case that we represent the mainstream and that legalization is on the way. Read the whole thing here.