In 1969, the year of Woodstock, only 13 percent of Californians supported legalizing marijuana. In a Field Poll released Wednesday, 54 percent of them thought it was about time. It's the highest level of support since the polling service began asking the question 44 years ago and it follows a national trend that favors making pot legal for recreational use.
My only question is this: Are the remaining holdouts still watching and believing "Reefer Madness?" That's the 1937 film that became a cult classic in the 1960s among pot-smokers who found stoned amusement in its depiction of them as paranoid sex-crazed zombies.
The reason I ask is that the only age group where the majority of folks still oppose legalization is 65-and-older, with 52 percent opposed and 43 percent favoring. Respondents ages 50 to 64 support it, 55 percent to 41 percent. So what's up with the older guys? Apparently the line of demarcation comes right at baby boomers, and the presumption is that as they age, they will replace the last generation of people who are most strongly opposed to the idea. Eventually, legalized pot-smoking becomes a done deal.
But frankly, reading about how those slightly older than me still think pot is evil caused a flashback. I remember having these same discussions with my parents and the older siblings of my friends.
I'm old enough to remember school health class warnings about how pot-smoking was a certain path to harder drugs. We were told that "100 percent of heroin-users first tried marijuana." The popular response in the circles I traveled was "Yes, and 100 percent of heroin-users first drank milk too."
We were told that only criminals used marijuana and that it encouraged them to commit crimes by increasing their boldness and diminishing their good judgment. That was usually answered with the "which came first: the cart or the horse" response. If it wasn't illegal, there would be no crime committed, right?
I also recall my teachers telling me how pot caused brain damage, memory loss, birth defects and uncontrollable urges for sweets. At least they got that last one right.
But all nostalgia aside, what exactly are the holdouts so worried about? Do they still believe that pot use will escalate to harder drugs? Is smoking a joint any worse for you than drinking alcohol? Haven't these questions been asked and answered a million times before? The weirdest evolution of the marijuana debate is that we now talk about how it would impact our tax base. Is creating a revenue stream really a factor in deciding whether to make pot use legal?
Smoking marijuana is Prohibition all over again, and we all know how well that turned out. If you need a refresher course, watch a few reruns of "Boardwalk Empire." Or better yet, maybe send them to President Obama, whose White House has consistently reiterated its opposition to any form of drug legalization. Gotta be some politics at work there.
But for those keeping score, here it is: Federal U.S. law still bans marijuana for recreational use. Using the drug for medicinal purposes is legal in about 20 states. Voters in Colorado and Washington made it legal to use pot recreationally and folks there are in a sort of limbo-land while they sort out who holds the trump card -- the feds or the state.
And still the debate rages on and on. It's one of those things, like gun control, that people feel so certain about their position that they don't actually hear the other side. Maybe it's just time to stop trying to persuade them since time, it appears, is on our side on this one. The warning to "don't Bogart the joint" will be re-entering our vernacular soon enough.
What's my interest? I'm a mom and I think it's important to be a role model for my kids in the law-abidance category -- and we don't get to pick which laws we want to follow. My 12-year-old isn't on Facebook, even though all his friends are, because to do so would require lying about his age and I don't encourage my kids to lie. I drink wine but never as much as a sip if I know I have to drive someplace. And I hope to never see a drunk -- or pothead -- on the road with me. Ever. Responsible use of marijuana isn't synonymous with legal use, and needs to be.
And lest you think otherwise, I'm not a pot smoker. I don't break laws, even ones I don't agree with. Those, I try to change.
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