Marijuana Will Be Legal Soon!

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Can writers get a contact high from a news report? It seems possible given the giddy reactions of bloggers and activists to any whiff of positive marijuana-related coverage in the press. The Atlantic Wire previously covered some of the enthusiasm about laxer marijuana restrictions and increased cultural acceptance here and here. Now the Washington Post is bringing the drug back into headlines, with a Monday article positing a 'generational shift' in attitudes toward the drug, with more people favoring marijuana legalization today than a decade ago.

Whether marijuana legalization is in the near-term offing remains to be seen, but the media is happy to continue reporting the trend. Here's a sampling of the march-toward-marijuana-legalization motif over the last year:

  • Andrew Cohen, CBS News: "It's not my place to advocate anything - so please don't write and accuse me of being Cheech or Chong. All I am saying is that the economic case for legalizing marijuana, and for lower the drinking rate, is as compelling as it has ever been and that, in a time of great changes in the interaction between government and the governed, it would not be the worst thing in the world to have a serious national debate on the topic."
  • Alison Stateman, Time: "If passed, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act (AB 390) would give California control of pot in a manner similar to that of alcohol while prohibiting its purchase by citizens under age 21. (The bill has been referred to the California state assembly's public-safety and health committees; Ammiano says it could take up to a year before it comes to a vote for passage.) State revenues would be derived from a $50-per-oz. levy on retail sales of marijuana and sales taxes. By adopting the law, California could become a model for other states."
  • Joe Klein, Time: "Obviously, marijuana can be abused. But the costs of criminalization have proved to be enormous, perhaps unsustainable. Would legalization be any worse? In any case, the drug-reform discussion comes just at the right moment. We boomers are getting older every day. You're not going to want us on the highways. Make us your best offer."
  • Justin Scheck and Stu Woo, The Wall Street Journal: "After years in the shadows, medical marijuana in California is aspiring to crack the commercial mainstream...In February, the Justice Department said it would adhere to President Barack Obama's campaign statement that federal agents no longer would target med-pot dealers who comply with state law. Since then, vendors who had kept a low profile have begun to expand, and entrepreneurs who had avoided cannabis have begun to invest."
  • Lisa Ling, National Geographic Explorer: "I really think that its time that our lawmakers and drug enforcement officials, perhaps scientists and intellectuals actually sit down and scrutinize this issue and figure out a way to possibly better regulate it, possibly decriminalize it. And there is a way, I think, because relative to methamphetamines and cocaine, its not as extreme a drug. And maybe there's a way to liken it to our laws vis-à-vis alcohol...I do know that the arguments for legalization are very strong."
  • Roger Parloff, Fortune: "The acceptance of medical marijuana has implications that extend far beyond helping those suffering from life-threatening diseases. It is one of several factors -- including demographic changes, the financial crisis, and the widely perceived failure of the war on drugs -- reopening the country's 40-year-old on-again, off-again shouting match over whether marijuana should be legalized. This article is not another polemic about why it should or shouldn't be. Today, in any case, the pertinent question is whether it already has been -- at least on a local-option basis."
  • Mark Jacobson, New York Magazine: "Could it be that, at long last, the Great Pot Moment is upon us? The planets are aligning. First and foremost is the recession; there's nothing like a little cash-flow problem to make societies reconsider supposed core values. The balance sheet couldn't be clearer. We have the so-called War on Drugs, the yawning money pit that used to send its mirror-shade warriors to far-flung corners of the globe, like the Golden Triangle of Burma and the Colombian Amazon, where they'd confront evil kingpins. Now, after 40 years, the front lines have moved to the streets of Juárez, where stray bullets can easily pick off old ladies in the Wal-Mart parking in El Paso, Texas, even as Mexico itself has decriminalized pot possession as well as a devil's medicine cabinet of other drugs. At the current $40 billion per annum, even General Westmoreland would have trouble calling this progress."
  • Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Harper's: "A great many people who might in another era have cared about illegal foreign wars or grave threats to civil liberties had been outraged into apathy by the unrelenting malevolent ineptitude of their government and had again become preoccupied with their live-work loft spaces and the vesting schedules of options and how best to 'monetize eyeballs.' And whereas their forebears, in a bygone time, might have been found in Golden Gate Park scoring grass from which seeds and twigs had to be charily picked, our contemporaries were pleased to take the state of California up on its gracious proposition of Compassionate Use and relieve their chronic white-collar neck pain with top-shelf industrial-grade medical marijuana, purchased semi-legally and with post office-like convenience in the shabby boutiques increasingly blacking out shop windows all over town."
  • Jessica Bennett, Newsweek: "The fact that we now are debating [marijuana decriminalization]--at least in some parts of the country--is the result of a number of forces that, as MacCoun puts it, have created the perfect pot storm: the failure of the War on Drugs, the growing death toll of murderous drug cartels, pop culture, the economy, and a generation of voters that have simply grown up around the stuff. Today there are pot television shows and frequent references to the drug in film, music, and books. And everyone from the president to the most successful athlete in modern history has talked about smoking it at one point or another."
  • David Stout and Solomon Moore, The New York Times: "Polls have shown for years that there is widespread public support for making marijuana available to relieve the suffering of people who are very ill. But repeated efforts in Congress to block federal prosecution of medical marijuana have fallen short, and the new policy was a sharp departure from that of the Bush administration, in which the Drug Enforcement Administration raided medical marijuana distributors even if the distributors appeared to be complying with state laws. The new policy, which reflects positions that Mr. Obama took as a presidential candidate and that Mr. Holder laid out in March, came in a memo from David W. Ogden, the deputy attorney general, to the United States attorneys in the affected states, most notably California."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.