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November 2012
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Are we about to see the dissolving of soft opposition?

Just doing some random thinking here…

One of the obstacles we’ve faced in the past is what we might call the “soft” support for legalization. By that, I mean that there were a lot of people who seemed to support legalization, but were either afraid to talk about it publicly, or considered it a kind of “future consideration” issue — one they supported privately, but didn’t consider important enough to give public support (“we can’t spend political capital on something like that right now when there are so many other important issues” was a common thread on liberal websites, for example).

It seems to me that we’ve done a pretty good job of breaking through that barrier. Partlly with groups like LEAP and SSDP and others, talking about legalization has become more… acceptable to people, and with the emphasis on violence in Mexico, etc., the immediacy of the issue has increased.

So now, with two states passing legalized marijuana, all those who have supported legalization, regardless of how soft their support, feel empowered, which will help dramatically with future efforts.

So, it’s time to look at the opposition to legalization, and I think we can show that it’s soft as well. Other than the die-hard prohibitionists and those who profit from prohibition, the general public that opposes legalization is unlikely to feel strongly about their opposition. They’re opposing legalization, for the most part, because they think they’re supposed to – after all, the government has told them to.

But we know that the opposition is soft — for proof, simply look at how wide the range of poll numbers is depending on how the question is asked. If people’s opposition changes based on the wording of the question, it’s very soft.

I’m already seeing some anecdotal evidence of friends who are speaking positively of the votes in Colorado and Washington as something important — and these are people who never talked about marijuana publicly before.

We could theoretically see a rapid growth in poll numbers for legalization nationally, simply because the voters in those two states validated the topic. It’s no longer some pot-head pie-in-the-sky dream, it’s state law.

Regardless of how easy or difficult it is for Colorado and Washington to implement their new laws, the laws already have major impact. They’ve emboldened countries around the world, validated the views of legalization supporters and may cause the dissolution of soft opposition.

What does this mean for those of us who are fighting for more than the legalization of cannabis? Well, I’m optimistic there as well.

While opposition to marijuana legalization has been soft, that hasn’t been true when it comes to opposition to legalizing other drugs. We’ve always known that legalization of other drugs will be a much tougher battle and will take more time to build support.

However, one of the great things about the cannabis legalization movement is that we have succesfully linked it to the evils of prohibition. I’m seeing so many articles that are essentially saying that we should support legalizing marijuana because the drug war is so destructive — not “the war on marijuana,” but “the drug war.” That’s a great foundation for future efforts.

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33 comments to Are we about to see the dissolving of soft opposition?

  • Francis

    I think this is exactly right. Soft opposition to cannabis legalization is evaporating. The battle’s outcome is clear, and the morale of the losing army has been broken. Expect to see prohibition supporters fleeing the field in droves. (Also expect that many of them, in years to come, will claim to have been members of the resistance all along.) For example, here’s George Will (the epitome of establishment conservatism) in a column written a few days after the election that calls on the GOP to turn in a more libertarian direction:

    And it is strange for conservatives to turn a stony face toward any reconsideration of drug policies, particularly concerning marijuana, which confirm conservatism’s warnings about government persistence in the teeth of evidence.

    As a reminder, this is where we last saw George on the issue of drug policy. (Sounds like he’s moved a little further, no?)

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  • Emma

    May 12, 2012 poll: “If you knew that legalizing and regulating both marijuana and cocaine would, in fact, reduce drug violence along the Mexican border, would you favor or oppose regulating both marijuana and cocaine?”

    Yes to legalization and regulation of cocaine: 47% with 3% margin of error.

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  • Francis

    And the reason this is so important is that most opposition is “soft opposition.” Most people have spent all of five minutes thinking about the issue of drug policy. They’ve opposed legalization because “everyone knows” that “drugs are bad” and should therefore be illegal. But the things that “everyone knows” are always changing. And a new “conventional wisdom” is rapidly emerging. Now “everyone knows” that cannabis prohibition is a wasteful failure. The people without strong ego attachment to the old policy will find it very easy to flip the switch in their brains from opposing legalization to supporting it. And the people with stronger attachment because of political / cultural identities (“only ‘liberals’ / ‘long-haired hippie freaks’ smoke pot”) will have to contend with a competing cognitive pressure. No one wants to feel ridiculous, or as I put it the other day, no one wants to be the last person to get the joke. When they recognize they’re part of a shrinking majority, their natural human tendency will be to look for an excuse to rejoin the herd. I’m calling it. This one’s over. We won.

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  • Klay

    I have to say I have never been too optimistic about legalization (mostly due to the money wrapped up in it – jobs (local police and prisons, and the federal level, not to mention seizing of property and lobby groups – like Pharmaceuticals), all at a much bigger cost but it made me feel like it was going to be forever blocked… That said I am feeling much more optimistic now, it seems like almost a levy has broken not only for the US but foreign support seems to be there also.

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    • claygooding

      The corporate supporters of marijuana prohibition attempted to build a drug war machine that would defeat any attempt to legalize hemp.

      Look at the ONDCP policy regarding schedule 1 drugs,,those paragraphs were written as a catch 22 to curtail any attempts to remove marijuana from schedule 1 and I say it was for marijuana explicitly because look how easily cocaine and even meth were removed from schedule 1 with no opposition from the DEA or the ONDCP,,no claims that it wasn’t medicine and apparently NIDA allowed the medical research and clinical trials to occur or the FDA would never have been able to approve them as a medicine,,,something they won’t even allow for marijuana.

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  • stlgonzo

    OT: The Places Where America’s Drones Are Striking, Now on Instagram

    I know its not the drug war, but I figure some here will be interested.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/the-places-where-americas-drones-are-striking-now-on-instagram/265112/#

    http://dronestagram.tumblr.com/

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  • darkcycle

    Okay, this is weird, I read this entire post with a really strong sense of Deja-vu. And a toy with no batteries is making noise in Ashi’s toy box. I’ve checked it twice. It’s empty.
    Er…….Tracy’s in Africa right now, so I know SHE’s not messing with me (this time).
    Real good, you guys. Now stop F*cking with my head. I just woke up.
    I’d really like to know how you did the Deja-Vu thing though, man, that was intense!

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    • Matthew Meyer

      You been smokin’ that Haze again, DC?

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      • darkcycle

        Actually, an Apollo 13 crossed with a Romulan derivative. But a strong sativa strain nonetheless. Why?

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        • claygooding

          Still doing bag seeds but am attempting to get hold of some clones from a medical source,,,time for me to hone my cloning skills so I can keep them going without having to replace them,,gonna try three different strains,,1 Indica,1 Sativa and one 60% Indica-40% Sativa,,,for a variety and possible cross breeding practice.

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        • darkcycle

          Cloning is a lot easier than it seems. My cloning success rate is around 80%, and I’m pegging that intentionally low.
          I have also never encountered any problem when ordering seeds, whether within or form outside the country. They don’t even look for seeds. The worst thing they do is x-ray the packages out of Amsterdam proper (x-rays will kill seeds). All the seed companies know this and mail from a suburb or another town.

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        • Liam

          Ah ha! When you cross those two, you get an Avestan smartphone!

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        • darkcycle

          The strain is called “Final Frontier”, FWIW.

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        • really…? I’d buy some killer seeds but worried about that mail thing.

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        • darkcycle

          I’ve ordered seeds from Vancouver Island Seed Co., The “Attitude” Seed bank, Kind seeds, and from BC bud depot. Never had seeds fail to arrive, though I cannot say all those strains over the years were keepers. I’ve ordered on average once every two years for the last ten.
          Reliable? Go with varieties from D.J. Short, Greenhouse Amsterdam (non-feminized…avoid the hermies, trust me.) and DNA genetics (the DNA seeds can be hard to find, but it’s worth the effort)

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        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          My favorite is http://www.sanniesshop.com/sannies-seeds/ He’s got lots of video of his production and will give you 30 seeds for about the price of what the other seed dealers will make you pay for 10. Great customer service making it right when he totally blew an order.

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  • Servetus

    The soft opposition will be those who’ve listened to the wrong voices in the past, but who still regard harm and safety as the major factors in their decisions about marijuana.

    By contrast, the hard opposition will continue its appeals to a traditional pseudo-morality that abhors altered states of consciousness, and to dysfunctional authorities, such as corporatists. The morals-and-authority demographic will react to legalization on a purely emotional basis, as they always do, dismissing opposing facts and votes. For them, physical harm and safety are far less important than saving souls or capital.

    I think the next incremental step for legalizing and regulating all drugs, that of freeing marijuana, should depict cannabis as something that’s good for people, much like the occasional glass of wine or ale, or the use of herbs and food supplements, like omega-3s. It’s a health status marijuana enjoyed for many centuries, and by many different cultures, long before people like the Anslingers and the Hearsts made a wreck of fiscal, social and medical policies in order to feed their own racism and greed.

    Legalization of marijuana as a health supplement flies in the face of capitalist strategies designed to eliminate most alternatives people might have regarding material goods, or lifestyles. And that also makes legalization a good thing. It raises marijuana use to the level of a pro-choice argument, as well as a platform by which to secure further personal freedoms for all citizens.

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  • Francis

    (This is in response to the next post. Pete, feel free to relocate. Also, fyi, posts with embedded video always act a little buggy for me when I’m on a mobile device.)

    Two thoughts re: that ridiculous “Jack and Jill” video. First, it should be noted that the one drug that is BY FAR the most likely to lead to regrettable sexual encounters is the only one they kept legal, alcohol. Second, if I’m a teen, my takeaway from that video is that drugs will get me laid and make the experience awesome (but that I should maybe use a condom). I’m not sure that’s the message they were going for. Oh, and I wrote a poem:

    Kev and Gil went up on Capitol Hill
    To fetch a bag of cash.
    But the taxpayers awoke,
    And spotted the joke.
    And the drug war tumbled down with a crash.

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    • darkcycle

      Wow! Nice one. We have another “Little Dickie Darkelson” on our hands! Folks on Pete’s couch seem to appreciate poetry more than your average public restroom-goers.

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    • JamesNseattle

      This site needs to give you a job.. great poem!

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  • Klay

    http://www.world-war-d.com/petition-wa-co/

    LEAP petition asking for the federal gov to respect the will of the CO and WA voters.

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  • A point needing frequent iteration is that we do not adopt or maintain prohibitive laws in this country based on morality. We adopt laws to protect individual liberties and property rights, i.e., the right to pursue happiness. We can and should respect religious beliefs but those beliefs in our country are to be practiced by the believers, not imposed on the rest of us. Our laws against drugs passed constitutional muster when adopted only based on a Congressional finding that the greater harm would result to the people if the scourge was not stopped by prohibition. Now we know better and that the real immorality lies in criminally punishing drug use.

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  • Tony Aroma

    It’s not the “soft” opposition that we need to worry about. They’re not the ones showing up in the media denouncing legalization (e.g., Kevin Sabet). They’re not the ones donating to opposition efforts. So while they may greatly outnumber the “hard” opposition, it’s the hard opposition that makes the most noise and are the ones the public hears most often.

    I’d expect the hard opposition to make even more noise now. And they’ll continue to do the same things. A year from now, two or three years on even, they’ll be spouting off about how crime has increased and teenager marijuana use has increased, and proclaim every other horrible consequence they predicted has come to pass. Even though there will be plenty of hard data to refute their claims (as there is now). No matter, they’re the ones the public will be seeing and reading about.

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    • darkcycle

      Not if we keep this chorus up, Tony. They’re hearing us now.

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    • kaptinemo

      Yes, they will be seeing and hearing…the crazies.

      You know why they retain Sabet, yes? To keep a (seemingly) rational face on something that amounts to a foamingly rabid dog.

      For example, can you imagine the likes of Daryl Gates getting on the Tube today and saying that casual cannabis consumers need to be taken out and shot?

      More importantly, can you imagine the public reaction, especially in light of that generational shift having brought those younger, closeted cannabis consumers into the political majority, after having reached the social majority?

      The DrugWar has been fueled by authoritarianism as much as corruption and lies. An authoritarianism that the latter generations have had a bellyful of. They’ve been manipulated since they were kids, in a very real attempt at socially engineering a ‘perfect’ generation according to the lights of those authoritarians. Expected to be obedient, unthinking, good little right-wing wind-up toys.

      Well, as I keep saying, the intended victims of this social engineering made their voices heard in this election, in WA and CO, and it was in a way that repudiated what was done to them, in no less stinging a way than a slap in the face. THE DRUGWAR HAS BEEN REJECTED SOUNDLY BY THE GENERATIONS IT WAS SUPPOSEDLY FOUGHT FOR.

      The votes last week are the fruit of rejecting that authoritarianism, telling said authoritarians to go do something anatomically impossible for half of them.

      So, eventually, you will see the underlying fascistic, overbearing “Do as I say, or else!” REAL prohibs, not Kevie’s paper-mache mask of faux reasonableness.

      So, sure, let them rant and rave and foam. It will lead to the collapse of prohibition even faster.

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      • Windy

        Keep in mind there are as many authoritarians among the liberals as among the conservatives, some are rabidly anti-drug and others just want the authority to prohibit different kinds of behaviors (like what people should eat or include in their recipes, or what they should use in their homes as in toilets and light bulbs, and what they should be allowed to say out loud.

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        • kaptinemo

          True enough…and one might say it was the leftist authoritarians of the so-called ‘Progressive Era’ of 1900-1920 that got the whole thing started.

          But, for the past 40 years, this has been mainly a right-wing show, beginning with the Nixon Administration and its’ avowedly right-wing orientation. (Very handy for the banksters who prop up the Potemkin Village of US politics).

          They actually did try to engineer the post-Boomer generations into RW worker drones, intent upon producing little more than obedient industrial units/consumers who wouldn’t rock the economic boat with social justice concerns, just get your MBA and you, too, can ‘someday’ be a filthy rich plutocrat (or so the myth goes)…one able to use government as a tool to inject your personal neuroses into society. (See ‘Powell Memo’)

          Cannabis to the RWers has always been a symbol of repudiation of the basic tenets of that. You’re not supposed to step off the treadmill they expect you to run on to power their ‘machinery’ literally until you either die or retire…and cannabis enables exactly that.

          That’s why they’ve fought so long and hard against it…and against those who use it, for we represent a threat to their ‘Matrix’ of “Work hard, and you shall be rewarded” lie. Enough people doing that, and their control system begins to shred itself.

          To take back one’s personal sovereignty from what amounts to Pink Floyd’s “The Machine” by re-legalizing cannabis use is an immense threat to a system that has sought to reduce Human beings to cogwheels in that ‘Machine’ – why do you think they keep harping on about (flat robot voice) ‘productivity! productivity!’ ? You hear the voice of the ‘Machine’ when you hear that. And now that ‘Machine’ is terrified that it’s losing control. AS IT SHOULD BE.

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  • Dante

    RE: Soft opposition

    One more thought about the future reduction of “soft opposition” to legalization. There is a giant wave coming to wipe them out. Why?

    A whole heck of a lot of them will die very soon. They are in their 80’s and 90’s.

    It’s a generational thing – my Grandad would drink rot gut moonshine that his buddy made out in the woods, but he would report anyone who had cannabis as a “commie”, or some such rot. He really thought he was “saving America” by helping create the incarceration nation. It made him feel good about himself. Today, it is the opposite.

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  • as many of us do, I do my GoogleNews searches on different keywords and word combinations. I must say… where once it was almost fruitless to use just “marijuana” because the busts would just roll by… but now… now it’s stories about legalization. And there’s nary a peep from the Prohibs… searching calvina fay gives me one story 4 days old.

    Mark Kleiman is the most visible prohib in the news… and doing this makes me think, remember the 9 ex-drug kzars that didn’t like CO’s 64? Nary a peep. It might be a concussion… they took quite a blow upside the head. It was such a hard wallop, it knocked several bricks from the wall when their heads were slammed against it by the voters!

    The similes, analogies and metaphors runneth over…

    was Lewis Carroll psychic?

    “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!”

    He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought—
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

    One, two! One, two! and through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

    “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
    He chortled in his joy.

    if that isn’t a description of every-stoner a week ago…

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    • kaptinemo

      Worse, for the ex-DrugCzars, the inevitable question must be asked: Why so many? If they were able to ‘win’ this ‘war’, 2, no more than three. But nine of them? Soon to be ten?

      They’re like an old entertainer whose shtick has worn out, and he doesn’t have the sense to realize it’s long past time to retire it…or himself.

      Nine DrugCzars = ‘FAILURE’ written in big, block, neon electric flaming letters 5 stories tall. It is not a matter of pride, but shame. And it’s indicative of the bubble they live in that they can’t even dimly perceive that.

      And they still want to call attention to themselves? For all their suits and ties, IMHO, they’re on the same level as the perv in the trenchcoat standing on the street corner, exposing himself. Sickos, all of ‘em…

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  • Writing for the WSJ Bret Stephens urged scapping the liberal/conservative paradigm. That struck home to me especially as I have recently read Virginia Postrel’s “The Future and Its Enemies”. Her theme there is that stasis needs to be replaced with dynamism. We who would dismantle the war on drugs would do well to think along those lines and suggest them to others for it is the stasist technocrats on the left and the reactionary conservatives on the right who stand in the way of responsible drug policy.

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