marijuana legalization as social movement
Vox ran an article asking how marijuana legalization came to have so much support. In speaking to German Lopez, I offered a tipping point theory and some thoughts about the low cost of information:
Rojas of Indiana University suggested the advancements of the movement could be a self-perpetuating cycle: As more states legalized medical marijuana, Americans saw that the risks of allowing medicinal use didn’t come to fruition as opponents warned. That reinforced support for medical marijuana, which then made politicians more comfortable with their own support for reform.
A similar cycle could be playing out with full legalization, Rojas explained. As voters see medical marijuana and legalization can happen without major hitches, they might be more likely to start supporting full legalization.
“People said, ‘Okay, now that someone else is throwing this out in public, it’s okay for me to vote for it or approve it,'” Rojas said. “That’s probably the main driving force: using the electoral system to push ideas that people may be afraid to think about or consider because they’re illegitimate — or at least they were.”
The rapid change in public opinion could have been helped along by the internet, which allows people to share stories about their own pot use, research about the issue, and states’ experiences with relaxed marijuana laws much more quickly.
“When I was a college student around 1990, other than hardcore political wonky types, … nobody really talk about drug legalization,” Rojas said. “Now, you can go on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, and people can share a news story. You get exposed to it constantly.”
Check it out.