Blunt Words

by on May.31, 2010, under Politics

The Los Angeles Times/USC poll finds that support for legalized marijuana leads at 49%, but is soft, with one-third of supporters only “somewhat” supporting it:

Voters were also split over whether legalized marijuana would worsen social problems, such as increasing crime and triggering higher marijuana use among teenagers. Those concerns appear to have much more potency with voters than the debate over tax revenues. Among those who oppose the initiative, 83% think it would add to the state’s social woes; 55% of married women also believe that.

Me, May 20:

The talking points in favor of legalization are simple: regulate and tax it like alcohol and reap more than $1 billion of revenue that can patch the holes in our budget. These are terrible talking points, and I think it’s because of this mostly bloodless approach to the issue that the initiative will fail.

The one-third of supporters who polled as weak will mostly not vote; a few will be turned to “no” votes. What if we generously assume that one-third hold to yes, one-third convert to no, and one-third don’t vote, and also that the 10% who answered “don’t know” or refused to answer don’t vote? The measure goes down, 55-45. I think it will be closer than that, but that kind of loss doesn’t feel extreme.

I’d like to see an ad for legalization that forgot about the tax revenue case and showed a boring looking middle-aged couple saying something along the lines of, “We don’t really smoke much pot anymore. It was pretty fun when we were younger, but these days we prefer a nice glass of wine. Still, I wouldn’t mind an occasional hit, and certainly, no one should go to jail for it. We’ll tell our kids what we’ve already told them about alcohol: your body isn’t ready for it now, but it’s something you might enjoy occasionally in moderation.” Then some policy case foofara, followed by a tag of the couple saying, “Oh, you remember that party where you shared that spliff with Kenny? That was trippy, man…”  and being embarrassing dorks.

I don’t think it would turn the election, but it would start to address the emotional content of the civic debate in a way that “use taxes will fill the budget gap” doesn’t.

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