05 November 2010

Prop 19, again

The Atlantic | Megan McArdle | Will Pot Become Legal?

Andrew Sullivan pushes back against Tyler Cowen's argument that aging demographics do not favor pot legalization:
Contra Drum, Tyler Cowen is pessimistic:
I don't see marijuana climbing the legalization hill, if it can't make it through current-day California. We're seeing the high water mark for pot, as aging demographics do not favor the idea.
That assumes that today's younger anti-prohibition generation will get pro-prohibition as they age. But is that true? Maybe having kids changes things, but my experience of ageing boomers is that they're not anti-pot at all.
In my experience, the big dividing line is having kids. Read this interview with P.J. O'Rourke and discover some shocking things coming out of his mouth about how he doesn't want his kids to do drugs. Having kids makes you realize how narrowly you escaped killing yourself--and remember all the friends who overdosed, or got arrested on a DUI, or spent their twenties working at a job that would let them smoke up three times a day, only to realize at age 35 that they had pushed themselves into a dead end.
Okay. That's a theory, and not a bad one.  You can never underestimate the over-protectiveness of a modern American parent, after all.

But you know what else my generation could remember about smoking up, besides the slackers and the burnouts? They could remember that the editor of the school paper, or the president of the senior class, or the valedictorian, or the captain of the basketball team smoking and then going to college and then getting solid jobs and then having families and being normal. They could remember all of that, because that all happened too.

They could also remember that of all the bad things that happened to their friends who smoked, by far the worst were legal complications, that is to say, effects of marijuana prohibition, not effects of marijuana itself.

Edited to add: see also Jacob Sullum's take-down of Josh Marshall's incoherent pro-prohibition position, which seems to revolve around something like "well, I'm 40 now, so I guess drugs are bad?"

Further edited: Bryan Caplan goes to the GSS numbers, and concludes that "Parents are more opposed to legalization, but there's no reason to put great emphasis on it. Religion, ideology, and education are far more important cleavages."

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