Weed In America
Weed in America: Meeting some Opponents to the Legalisation of Pot
Marijuana is increasingly popular across America. Just this year two states legalised recreational use, and analysts project that by 2015 over 80% of American states will have medicinal marijuana available.
A recent poll indicates the majority of Americans are in favour of legalisation, yet there is significant hesitancy in the national legislature to decriminalise it. Naturally, most modern westerners are asking what is the hold up? What is the purpose for holding out on pot? Americans want it legal, and independent state legislatures are pushing forward with out the national support from Washington.
The trouble in legalising pot in America is the history that supersedes public opinion. The difficulty that lawmakers face is perspectives in a constituency called traditionalists.
Whether lawmakers are liberal or conservative, many of them must answer to traditionalist voters. American traditionalists are not old or young, and they spread themselves across the country, not limited to just in small remote places like Kansas or Wyoming.
In writing this article I I met a few traditionalists. The first is a 28 year old, located on Long Island, NY. He is an educated independent businessman. He is married and is involved in his community. Generally, he is a good citizen involved in his local chamber of commerce. He argues his case against pot to me stating
“I don’t support the legalisation of Marijuana because it makes people lazy, it ruins families, and is the gateway drug”
Not being a weed smoker myself, I asked why do you care if people are lazy? He stated,
“It is un-American”
Puzzled with this response I found another 29-year-old, police officer in Middle America patrolling a mid-sized college town. This young father and upstanding citizen indicated his opposition to pot was for the sake of “values in society”. Making his point he stated,
“Weed is all over, and when I find weed on random stops or in troubled areas, there is always others drugs around. I think weed is a gateway drug, and legalising makes it easier for drug dealers to hide. In my line of work, I want drugs off the streets, and out of homes. Drugs break down society, and destroy the home, and weed is not any different”.
These two points of view can easily be argued with because its hard for anyone to claim a drug is “American or not” and likewise it does not follow that weed has anything to do with “society”. However, it is clear these perspectives penetrate a vast set of differing people.
A 19-year-old young woman from middle of Illinois commented on these two points of view stating,
“Weed does not kill, but its not really apart of how I grew up. I grew up going to church, and I was in Girl scouts, and I played sports everyone who smokes weed does not go to church and is like into skateboarding or something strange”.
Furthering the traditionalist perspective surrounding the legalisation of weed is a medical doctor I interviewed from Northern Los Angeles. This 35-year-old male argued his case against weed as a medicine stating,
“Smoking a controlled substance for pain is like making test tube babies to practice abortions, it’s totally against everything moral medical practitioners should be doing. Also, if Marijuana were so powerful as a medicine, we would have found its purpose already, its been tested for ages, and nothing has been proven.
Despite elements in these statements that are arguable, the perspectives of these individuals are profound. Lawmakers will find these voices across the country and when the political pressure builds to decriminalise weed on a national scale for medicinal or recreational uses they are passionate and opinionated perspectives.
Jake Diliberto is a Political Scientist, Ph D. candidate at the University of Birmingham, resident scholar on US National Security & research fellow at the Centre for International Policy. Specialised in Religious Conflict and Guerrilla Warfare. He served as a US marine in Afghanistan and Iraq.