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Hey Politicians, Reforming Marijuana Laws is Smart Politics

Submitted by smorgan on
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) signed on to Barney Frank's marijuana decriminalization bill because he thought it was the right thing to do. He certainly wasn't trying to score political points, but look what happened:

Clay was worried about the reaction. Supporting the liberalization of marijuana laws is not often seen as a political winner, especially in Midwestern cities like St. Louis.

But instead of stoner jokes, derision and righteous indignation, Clay was surprised to start getting praise from complete strangers.

“People are coming up to me saying this is a common-sense, sensible way to deal with the issue of personal use,” Clay said.

So far, he said, his calls, mail and contacts are running 80-20 in favor of the bill. He was impressed enough that he decided to go ahead and step before the cameras last week with Frank and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) at a news conference touting the bill. [The Hill]

One of the most pernicious artifacts still tainting the marijuana policy debate is the false notion that reforming marijuana laws is "politically risky." As Lacy Clay just learned, it isn't nearly that simple. Support for marijuana legalization has increased steadily for the last 20 years, according to a 2005 Gallup poll. While full legalization is still not the majority position, decriminalization enjoys 72% support according to Time/CNN.

It is just a fact that most Americans believe our marijuana laws are deeply flawed. This view continues to gain momentum despite mountains of misleading government propaganda designed to achieve the opposite effect. We are on a trajectory towards reform in terms of public opinion, yet many of our politicians remain hamstrung by antiquated conventional political wisdom, which holds that reform can't be marketed to the public. It's wrong, and it can be proven so through a process as simple as voting for decriminalization and watching as your constituents glow with praise and enthusiasm.

It is really just a matter of time before the political viability of marijuana reform is fully revealed, and when that happens, I suspect we'll discover that our movement has friends we didn't know about.

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