Scott Morgan held a chat with Ryan Grim today at FDL. Grim:

Those in drug policy reform must be feeling a bit like the Koch brothers, who’ve been throwing hundreds of millions of dollars up against the wall for decades trying to create some kind of Tea Party movement, and they’ve finally got (a few very loud) people on their side. There’s a big difference, though: people are coming around on drug policy by themselves, without any well-funded national campaign. It’s a genuinely organic evolution of public opinion, and it’s one you could see coming a few years ago.

I write in the book that marijuana has been part of the public consciousness, part of the popular culture, longer than any other widely used drug save alcohol. For baby boomers and anyone born beyond, they’ve had personal experience – either they or people they know – with pot, and that has a powerful ability to combat propaganda. Having Bush in the White House for eight years held back the floodgates, it slowed time, so to speak. By the time he left, though, only people who are now in their late 60s didn’t grow up with pot as a ubiquitous thing. But – and we have to give Obama credit here – the new administration’s decision to follow its campaign promise and (mostly) block the DEA from raiding pot clubs in states where medical marijuana is legal unleashed things: Colorado has a booming industry and states who had resisted passing their own laws got a big boost from the feds backing off. New Jersey’s law is now going into effect, as is D.C.’s and a number of other states are getting close.

The difficulty of regulating medical marijuana, especially since it’s still illegal at the federal level, has led and will continue to lead to policy setbacks and challenges. But those challenges have been overcome in some places – Oakland and San Fran, for instance – and can be overcome in others. The danger is a backlash that puts everything back under ground. But if people move cautiously and remember history, the future belongs to those who advocate treating pot like alcohol, such as groups like Just Say Now here at FDL.

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