Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2011
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2011 Independent Media Institute
Author: Scott Morgan


The Idea That the Public Supports Harsh Drug Laws and Will Punish 
Politicians WHO Deviate From It Is Starting to Fade. 

One of the most deeply imbedded ideas in our political culture is the
notion that the public supports harsh drug laws and will punish
politicians who deviate from the tough-on-drugs script. Unfortunately,
that's precisely why a lot of good ideas never make it out of the
conference room. It goes something like this:

INDIANAPOLIS -- When state Sen. Karen Tallian first floated the idea
of introducing a bill to look at legalizing marijuana, her Statehouse
colleagues warned the Portage Democrat that it could kill her chances
for re-election. [Herald Bulletin]

One could hardly begin to imagine how many times this exact exchange
has taken place in political circles, but what makes this story unique
is that Sen. Tallian understood something her colleagues did not:

But the 60-year-old mother of three thought there might be some public
support for taking the crime out of pot, so she sent out an informal
survey, via email, to constituents in her northwest Indiana district.
Within 72 hours of sending the email, she received more than 2,000
responses. Almost all of them were supportive, and most of the
supportive ones said the state should treat marijuana like alcohol:
Control its sale and tax it as a revenue enhancer.

"I was floored by the response," Tallian said. Emboldened by the
support, Tallian filed a bill last January to begin a serious

In so many ways, all it takes to move this issue forward is a
willingness to ignore the people who don't know how to have a serious
conversation about marijuana. They will tell you that it's not
important, even though it obviously is. They will tell you that no one
cares, even though almost everyone does. And they will tell you that
you'll make thousands of enemies, when new allies and friends are
waiting around every corner to pledge their support and stand
alongside any political leader wise enough to know that the time for
change is at hand.

If there exists a political price to be paid in the marijuana debate,
it will not befall those who've leant their voices to the movement for
reform. Rather, it is those who've ignored the polls, ignored the
headlines, and ignored the message sent by voters on one ballot
measure after another who will one day find themselves struggling to
adapt to the new politics of marijuana in America.

This fight is far from over, to be sure, but the idea that we must
arrest millions of our friends and neighbors for their use of
marijuana is one which will never again enjoy the popular support of
the American people. That much is clear, and the future holds
promising political opportunities for leaders who are willing to do
something -- anything -- other than defend the unfathomable and
escalating disaster our drug war has become. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.