The public just won’t buy the old arguments anymore

A lot of people have been talking about the new Pew Research Poll showing that a majority now supports legalizing marijuana (for the first time in this major poll).

I’m not at all surprised, and, to some extent, I was even more interested by some of the other questions in the survey.

As support for marijuana legalization has grown, there has been a decline in the percentage viewing it as a “gateway drug.” Currently, just 38% agree that “for most people the use of marijuana leads to the use of hard drugs.” In 1977, 60% said its use led to the use of hard drugs.

This has been one of the major arguments used (misused) by prohibitionists for decades. They used a vague definition of “gateway,” consistently conflated correlation with causation, and just plain lied. We knew, of course, but we had an uphill battle getting that understanding to the people. It seems that we’ve made real progress.


More recently, there has been a major shift in attitudes on whether it is immoral to smoke marijuana. Currently, 32% say that smoking marijuana is morally wrong, an 18-point decline since 2006 (50%). Over this period, the percentage saying that smoking marijuana is not a moral issue has risen 15 points (from 35% then to 50% today).

This was a major issue keeping small-government social conservatives supporting criminalization. Take away the moral opposition, and conservatives have very little reason not to support legalization.

I was thinking about how the general public no longer blindly supports the tired old false arguments when I read the Drug Czar’s latest blog post: Director Kerlikowske Joins Secretary Napolitano on Southwest Border

As part of the visit, Director Kerlikowske released a progress update on Administration efforts to strengthen border security. Some of the highlights include:

Increased weapons and drugs seizures. During 2009-2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seized 39 percent more drugs, 71 percent more currency, and 189 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to fiscal years (FY) 2005-2008.

And I was struck at just how… old that kind of argument feels today. So I tweeted to the Czar:

.@ONDCP @RafaelONDCP After decades of bragging on increased seizures, does anyone still buy that as “progress”?


.@ONDCP @RafaelONDCP If you trapped 10 mice in your home last year and 50 this year, would you call that progress? Increase in seizures?

I think the public is quite ready to be receptive to realizing just how stupid the argument is that increased seizures are a measure of drug war success, when they are in fact, the reverse.

It takes a lot of work to undo decades of propaganda, particularly among the public who aren’t at all focused on drug policy, but we’re making real progress.

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24 Responses to The public just won’t buy the old arguments anymore

  1. curmudgeon says:

    Would you believe the ONDCP has invented a worse mousetrap and the world is beating a path from their door?

  2. jean valjean says:

    id like to know more about these 18 “drug free” communities within 100 miles of the border funded by ondcp. what is this fantasy, kerli ?

  3. divadab says:

    Well, these filthy liars can fool some of the people all of the time – it’s that Faux News 30%!

    It’s the same 30% which is a reliable source of support for totalitarians all over the world. And it’s enough support to maintain fascist policies like the war on (some) drugs.

    I mean, 90% of the US population supports universal background checks for gun buyers – but the Congress won’t do it. The whole system is devoted to maintaining the status quo, no matter how corrupt, stupid and wrong.

    So – while the polling is good news, our masters in Washington (or, at least, their bought-and-paid-for COngress) may NEVER end cannabis prohibition – it’s too valuable a tool for maintaining control over whom they see as slaves (that would be us).

    BUt masters have heads which can be removed quite easily. Time to put the fear of headlessness into the greedy scum.

  4. allan says:

    so let’s see…

    Drug Free by ’83!… oops

    Drug Free by ’93!… oops

    Drug Free by ’03!… oops

    Drug Free by… oh hell, if it takes forever!

    One of my faves on the seizure claims… the amount of cocaine produced in Colombia in 1979 (estimated) is less than the amount they now seize annually. And as the drug war is hardly about ending the supply (the CIA loves using cash) of course they can claim “success.” Es all relative, no?

    • Duncan20903 says:


      The number I can’t get out of my head is 57,164. 57,164 pounds of merrywanna is what the US Border Patrol seized for the year (12 months, or 365 days or 1/100th of a century) ending 6/30/1969. Nowadays they do 30 tons in a single seizure. Heck I’ve even seen 40 ton seizures reported. What a great job, eh? Heck, there wasn’t even a significant domestic crop in 1969 unless you count feral hemp.

      When was the last time you heard of, or couldn’t find any pot because there wasn’t any to be found?

      A college sophomore named Frank, vacationing in New York City’s East Village, was quoted as saying: “Nobody can get any grass. After all this damned LSD, speed, and mescaline that’s going around, it sure would be great to act back to some nice, soft pot.” Miss Murrell then explained:

      “Frank had intended to stock up on marijuana in New York and take it to his friends at college, but the ‘pot drought’ has left him emptyhanded. ‘It’s really awful,’ he complains. ‘What will I tell the kids?’ “

      The Feds are doing one heckuva job.

  5. stlgonzo says:

    Those tweets are great.

  6. Duncan20903 says:


    It must suck to be a prohibitionist. These people are terrified of other people. Heck, there are still people that think the Vandals are massing outside the walls of Washington D.C. (AKA Rome) ready to over run our empire.

    Anyway, this thing is just gaining speed. What would you say the odds are of seeing this headline out of New Jersey? Of course I mean without actually having seen it:
    Time to legalize marijuana: Editorial

  7. Servetus says:

    It’s not only stale prohibitionist propaganda that fails to appeal. People are rejecting the entire alternative prohibitionist culture-kampf itself.

    Major foes of recreational drug use are buckling under enormous problems of their own making. Right-wing authoritarian wackos are being marginalized because we now know who and what they are. The virulently anti-drug Catholic Church faces schism or dissolution if it doesn’t solve its pedophile problem. Various small American religious cults that built moral capital with the U.S. government by championing and participating vigorously in drug enforcement are now facing opposition because their religious campaigns also targeted gays and citizens’ medical rights.

    There is currently determined opposition to the plutocratic behavior of corporations like the banks and drug companies. In the case of drug companies, the question is will Americans be allowed to use the safest, most effective, most readily available natural medicines? Or will we be forced to use only Big Pharma’s expensive, patented, prescription-only, less effective, less safe, Frankenstein chemicals that emerge from their labs? For decades, the vitamin and food supplement industry has fought the FDA in ways not that different from methods perfected by drug reform advocates.

    Tyranny never lasts. Tyrants always sow the seeds of their own destruction. Their anti-drug seeds have sprouted, and the entangling vines are strangling the prohibitionists to death.

    • claygooding says:

      Any idea on what nutrients and enhancers it takes to reach maximum growth on dissension????

      • Servetus says:

        The governments and various institutions are so full of crap that they become their own nutrients. However, watering down their propaganda will always help suppress the odor.

  8. Matthew Meyer says:

    OT: You all seen this? Brookings to debate pot legalization, with M.A.R.K., among others.

    Could be fun, if long-winded:

    And Can You Believe It: M.A.R.K.’s “BOTEC Analysis” is just a bunch of Back Of The Envelope Calculations, by his own admission.

  9. Servetus says:

    Our good buddy WikiLeaks just released 1.7 million formerly classified and reclassified federal documents, called the ‘Kissinger Cables’.

    Thousands of documents pertain to drugs and the drug war. Click here for a sampling.

  10. Chandler says:

    Props on the mice analogy.

  11. allan says:

    hey all… tonite on ‘Independent Lens’ PBS will be airing “the House I live In.” 10 pm here, but check your local affiliate schedule.

    • claygooding says:

      yup,,tomorrow nite here,,set up DVR already :<)

      Looking forward too playing it the next time my nephew,a Texas DPS officer is by.

      • allan says:

        good idea… I just heard yesterday one of my nieces (criminal justice major) just rec’d an internship… w/ the DEA. Gave me a grin that stretched from ear to ear. The universe most certainly has a sense of humor!

  12. Duncan20903 says:

    Well the Maryland Legislature has passed the most worthless “medical merrywanna” law of the 21st Century. It took a lot of effort to come up with legislation which will allow the State to call itself a medical merrywanna State while assuring that the law isn’t responsible for even a single patient to get even a single stick of cannabis. So presuming that as expected the Governor wastes his time signing the worthless law then Maryland will join Delaware in not getting even a stick of medicine to patients in need and start being counted as a medical marijuana State despite the fact that only academic institutions which get Federal money predicated on not participating will be the only legal source for medicinal cannabis in the State. I suppose there’s some marginal propaganda value in being able to say that there are 19 States + DC.

  13. This belongs on the last topic but its too good to miss:

    • claygooding says:

      Norman Gooding · Top Commenter · Seymour High School
      As far as drug testing aid receivers goes,, if we are going to be testing them because they use tax dollars to buy drugs,, does urine analysis prove guilt of buying drugs? Perhaps a friend dropped by and toked a joint with the aid receiver and they have never spent a dime of tax dollars on drugs,,
      Also, if drug screening punished only the wayward parent then it would still be questionable policy but it also leaves any children in the house without that aid.
      If you want to realy test the “wasters” of tax dollars,, do a hair follicle test on every state and federal legislator,, we wouldn’t want any hypocrites in power.


      Norman Gooding · Top Commenter · Seymour High School
      It is amazing how many former DEA and ONDCP executives are now employed by corporations that were made rich because they enacted policies that brought them guaranteed profits,, drug rehab is the next lottery winner on the drug war wheel of fortune and Kevin Sabet is deep into convincing investors to build the rehab centers necessary to change from incarceration to forced rehab,, the “new softer prohibition”. What they fail to say is that only people that can afford the rehab and court fees will get rehab,, indigents and poor people get too continue filling the prisons.

  14. James says:

    Well If you live in the Dayton Area Check

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