What is it about cannabis that makes it so much more amenable to direct democracy compared to representative democracy. Polls show that overwhelming majorities in most states support legalization. Yet elected representative have been extremely reticent to move policy in that direction. Two thirds of Americans support legalization, yet neither of the major party candidates for president do.
So they put it up for referendum instead, so it happens but it doesn't harm anyone's careers.
It's not at all any kind of vindication of direct democracy. Rather, because it's broadly popular but also highly unpopular with significant segments of voters on both sides... a referendum works out for everyone.
There's also people like my mother who believe marijuana is akin to meth. If you smoke it once you'll end up homeless, under a bridge down by the river
Another example to point to from recent US political history: the federal legalization of same-sex marriage, and subsequent rapid rehabilitation of the public platforms held by its former opponents still regularly running for re-election.
New York has all the political will needed but the problem is the bureaucracy. This should not be the least bit surprising.
Changes to law are coming from the courts, ballot initiatives, executive orders, and the bureaucracy, not from legislative bodies like they're supposed to. Legislators 'dunk' on Twitter all day and very little legislating actually happens.
It's an easy out for them -- they rarely go on record for supporting or opposing things now -- and can blame presidents, bureaucrats, and the courts for anything that turns out to be unpopular.
I'm guessing maybe it's because although those who oppose some form of marijuana (neither medical nor recreational) are in the minority, they still make up a sizable voting block when an election is won on the marginal vote. But how does that play out when >2/3 of people support it across the board, and that politician is the only one doing something to push it forward? That politician would literally be the only choice if marijuana is meaningful enough to a voter. So while the politician may lose some supporters, would they not gain support from others?
https://medium.com/incerto/the-most-intolerant-wins-the-dict... is a good article discussing these types of effects.
It's counter to "tough on crime" messaging, and for both parties, a lot of your reliable voters love "tough on crime" candidates.
Campaign contributions from groups interested in the status quo (law enforcement unions, private prison groups, pharmaceutical/tobacco/alcohol companies) also have an interest in funding the "No" campaign.
Whoops, forgot the link as an example.
Note this is also why I have the feeling a lot of the pro-marijuana research the has come out recently is going to turn out just as illegitimate as all the pro-tobacco stuff from years past - if not even financed by the same exact industries
It would depend on how the laws are structured, as well as market demand.
Microbrews and local produce markets come to mind. They are popular precisely because they are not large: their smaller scale allows them to offer higher-quality and speciality products.
I suspect something similar would show up very fast in the cannabis industry if the laws are structured to allow it.
The booze companies are already cozy with state regulators and have the logistics to get everything off the ground post legalization. Some even have age restricted venues (taprooms, pubs, etc) where they can sell directly to consumers and reduce concerns or risks with zoning.
It had to come from the people. Hollywood helped too, making weed smoking seem familiar, funny and harmless way before it was legal.
With popular votes on the topic, everyone wins: people get what they want, and no legislator needs to grow the courage to stand up for it.
Bear in mind that John Boehner (yea that one) is now hawking legal marijuana himself after years of publicly opposing it.
Someone who was 18 in the Summer of Love (1967) is 71 today.
That's not to say that drug experimentation wasn't more widespread than that group: I know my father experimented because he's told me. However he has become pretty conservative as he's gotten older. Or at least supports conservative American politicians and voted for Trump probably both times.
In practice, it seem like our representatives "understand" what lobbyists are paid to help them understand, and they protect entrenched interests from anything those interests don't like.
Florida voted for a $15/minimum wage, part of Biden's platform, but chose Trump over Biden.
What would we come up with if we voted by national referendum on gun control? Immigration? Climate change? Healthcare? Reproductive rights? I wonder...
Politicians in both parties are bribed (er, lobbied) by special interests. The average joe voter wouldn't care a rat's ass what Exxon thinks of climate change legislation (say).
In some states it's from the same place that voting under the age of 21 arose.
During the Vietnam War, kids were being drafted into the Army at 18 but still not allowed to vote until 21.
Just like it was in World War II only this time they weren't fighting for their country, they were fighting for somebody else's country.
Then along comes Nixon and it was plain to see he was an evil war-monger at heart.
Things got worse as expected, and there was no end in sight since it takes so long to become a powerful politician that the top positions will mostly be the oldest dogs in the race, and therefore by statistics alone the most out-of-touch about things affecting young people that were not a factor in their previous generation.
Fortunately there had been a baby boom so the 21 to 30 age group was bigger than ever at the time, and were largely on the same page as the still-powerless under-21 citizens.
Nixon was doing more damage to US democracy every year, at the same time the war was becoming more widely recognized for its pure stupidity as waves of returning soldiers and officers were able to confirm so with growing consensus.
This built a nationwide unification around lowering the voting age to 18. Even some war hawks could understand the unfairness of continuing to draft kids under 21 when they were still politically powerless. The dogs of war still despised the draft dodgers and their supporters who were constantly pointing this discrepancy out though.
Pressure on legislators eventually won the vote at 18, and while there was momentum plus a new decent size voting block overnight, the push for _Initiative Referendum_ got underway.
Before citizens can put something on the ballot themselves without necessarily having any politicians or political parties involved, their legislators often had to pass a law restoring the right to that type of freedom.
Due to the unprecedented pressure, many states chose to no longer deny this liberty to their people.
They then codified the hurdles that must be overcome for mere citizens to make things right without having to wait for sluggish politicians who may not be interested, or who could act as obstacles until more responsive representatives got into power.
Too bad not every state got this, especially now that it's needed more than ever, but that's what we were planning at the time.
It was plain to see that the 21st century was going to be pretty ugly, but there definitely needed to be some hope.
Texas is not a free state in this regard, remaining more like the Spanish monarchy that ruled when Texas was still a state in Mexico before it joined the USA. The legislature by design still has no provision to quit denying their subjects the full liberty to vote on items of their own initiative.
Oklahoma's lawmakers have presided over a free state by comparison, and their citizens have enjoyed one of the fundamental elements of democracy that Texans can only dream about.
individuals represent their own interests
Universal healthcare is difficult due to the inability to actually nationalize health care providers without having your state's system overburdened by everyone from neighboring states which you're quite limited in restricting due to federal interstate commerce requirements. Also the federal government would probably come down hard on you.
Businesses don’t support it. People should not come to work drunk or on high.
Government doesn’t like it. Marijuana creates bad atmosphere of drugged people.
People who never face the problems associated with marijuana are ok with it. But they still need a reason to vote yes. And prison population and Black Lives Matter did just that
Even now you can get flower vaporizers but it seems not all that many people know about them.
And just as a concrete example, I would rather see tax money go to an ad campaign that says "a lot of people find the smell of pot disgusting, smoke it away from others" than into law enforcement.
I really wish cigarettes were completely banned in public spaces. If you want to destroy your own lungs on your own property, fine. But I shouldn't have to breath it in.
Also, a bit of secondhand smoke outside isn't dangerous, it just smells bad.
That's provably false. And besides, not only does it smell bad, but it sticks to your clothes and then you smell bad.
Fact is, cars have a lot of other utility, and if it was possible to make a car that doesn't make smoke cheaply and without any other negatives, the whole car industry would go that way, legislation would happen and no more smoky cars would be made.
Smoking however has no other utility beyond, "screw you, I smoke wherever I want regardless of others comfort/health, and if you don't like it then you have go somewhere else".
There are ways to make cars that don't make smoke cheaply (Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt etc) and the argument about "without any other negatives" is really debatable when compared with manufacturing process of any other car.
Personally I'm a fan of the idea of those hilarious little smoking boxes that they have in some airports.
Getting off-topic, but... I'd like to get an electric car, but there's no infrastructure anywhere near my area. My coal-addicted government (Australia) is definitely not making it a priority.
Electric cars are unsuitable for lots of people currently and do have significant negatives. If the infrastructure was there, then great. But it isn't.
I wasn't actually talking about electric cars though. If suddenly a discovery was made that a catalytic converter could be made cheaply that cleans the smoke from a car completely and doesn't affect power, etc, don't you think that every single car company would adopt it immediately?
Generally speaking "weed usage" introduces far fewer carcinogens compared to "cigarette usage" - but lots of things are bad for you including alcohol and, especially, sugar.
Not a carcinogen: sugar.
Sugar demonization is out of control. Many people eat an unhealthy amount of it, but any level of tobacco or alcohol consumption harms health.
And sugar needs to be vilified more if anything. I would bet healthcare spending on issues related to excess sugar/carbohydrate consumption (aka being overweight) dwarf anything else.
Sugar gets all the blame, and fat is ignored even though consumption of both have increased (in the US) over time. And fat is confusing to people because nowadays plenty of people believe saturated fat is ok. I'd support a soda tax though.
For instance, when I buy groceries at walmart, if they don't have tyson boneless chicken that i want but instead great value boneless chicken, and I need chicken, I'm going to buy the great value chicken. Likewise in the scenario, if all fruit juices contained far less sugar, all of the country could adapt. If they want more sugar, nothing is stopping them from manually adding it themselves.
Extra taxes are just imposed upon lower classes. Just because you charge more from an item doesn't stop poor people from buying it. It just makes them poorer.
That's not because simple sugars are inherently bad for you but rather because many people don't realize just how much of it fruit juices contain. Related to this, an older family member was warned by a doctor for various reasons to cut back on fruit intake (not juice, but fruit itself).
I never buy juice unless it's roughly 80-100% plus in vitamin c and it contains 0 added sugars. I'm often shocked how many "juices" are literally de-carbonized soda with a healthy looking image.
So it's possible to consider it as even worse than some carcinogens.
Maybe I'm reading too much in to your comment, but with cigarette smoking there is a lot of the "if you want to destroy your lungs" attitude that I hypothesize stems from the puritain "if you want to prioritize enjoying something over long term health, I'll be especially harsh towards you". I 100% understand the infringement (or at least encroachment) on your right to enjoy the outdoors and believe it is very rude to expose someone to obnoxious smoke. But judging the "destroying your lungs" aspect is nobody's business but the person doing it. You may not have meant it this way, but I have seen a lot of people who do.
Edit - also, marijuana smoke is hazardous, just like tobacco smoke. Why would it be more benign?
I really, really could not care less about what people smoking do to themselves, but that horrible smoke carries so far and is so overpowering that it's hard to think about anything else when you're forcefully exposed to it.
A smoker is dominating a massive area around them and preventing other members of the public from enjoying that space. In a city space is at a premium.
Being an addict skews their ideas on what is socially acceptable, but the worst part is that the smokers themselves have no idea how bad it smells because they have completely ruined their sense of smell, so they are also at a heavily reduced capacity to judge how their actions are affecting others.
We have rules around a lot of antisocial behaviors, why should smoking be exempt?
There's a limit to how far this principle goes. If you saw someone trying to saw something out of their arm, would you think "whatever, it's their arm," or "this person is having a psychotic break and desperately needs medical attention, including restraint?" A lot of people would extend that to most forms of irrational self-harm. I don't want anyone to extend it to anything I do, though, so applying the principle of liberty even when it involves letting people destroy themselves for no reason, still seems attractive.
A more realistic example of what you're saying could be like when people get those big holes in their ears. It's clearly destructive to the body, I personally think its gross, but there is no good reason to limit people's right to do that. The limitations on freedom that preventing that behavior would entail is far worse than letting it happen.
Grandparent was talking about the adverse health effects on the people around who are not smokers, but forced to breathe toxic smoke from someone who doesn't care about anyone's health, including their own.
That's a very good reason in my book.
I dunno if marijuana smoke is more benign, but I wouldn't be surprised if one is much more harmful than the other. they are different substances. wouldn't you rather be at a barbecue than next to a trash fire?
Ultimately it's the same as drinking though, just be considerate and hide it from the kids!
I’ve witnessed friends in college become addicted to weed (yes, psychological addiction is still addiction) and their futures have suffered as a consequence.
I believe we need to discourage drug use as a society, not give up and let it become accepted. If that means instilling fear that one could be arrested with possession, then let it be.
If there is one thing we've learnt from the heroin years, is that these things have to be faced in the open, and that addicts are sick people, not bad people. You don't send sick people to jail, you send them to a hospital.
... and not all users of <substance> are addicts. Recreational use shouldn't be lumped in with addiction, nor should it be persecuted.
I agree it shouldn’t be on someone’s permanent record, but it should still be punished. Maybe keep it as a misdemeanor?
Despite some shockingly bad practices in the past and the common portrayal by media as "prisons for crazy people", psychiatric and psychological treatment is waaaaay different from prison. And yes, that treatment can be made compulsory, the legal instruments are already there, no new law necessary. DUI, for example, will obviously stay on the books no matter what, and you can work from there.
> Maybe keep it as a misdemeanor?
Why? Do you consider drinking alcohol punishable as a misdemeanor? We should just treat drug addiction the same way we treat addiction to alcohol, pills, regular smoking, etc.
The war on drugs just hurts individuals and helps drug cartels. Surely that is antithetical to the goal of having a healthy society.
As far as I know, most states that legalize set aside some portion of the generated tax revenue to support drug treatment programs, which at least partially addresses the "MJ isn't harmless" issue.
(UK) I know some rich people who have some plants growing right outside their kitchen, if I tried that where I live I'd get shafted without question.
Did not prohibition already show how it ends up?
Sample size matters.
Seeing 2 people become addicts is not ground to mobilise society into not legalizing a recreational drug, very much like alcohol and sugar of which have worse health side effects which society subsidizes.
there are quite a few hot button issues that could be solved by referendum but I tend to think we only need those when we face a legislature that is not listening
And Dc decriminalized mushrooms.
That’s not how laws should be formed in this country.
I asked a hospital doctor who said the same after witnessing Newark communities and voted to legalize.
I mean, I don’t use golf courses or fax machines, but I probably wouldn’t vote to ban them if the question was asked.
A personal story - when I was a teenager, a friend of mine smoked weed, thought that he can fly and jumped from the roof of 9 story building. He was 15. Just a warning that this is not all just fun and games.