Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reefer Gladness

In a victory for rational policymaking, the Obama administration is telling federal prosecutors not to go after people who use marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with state laws.

Polling on the broader issue of marijuana legalization is interesting. A Gallup survey done over the first half of this decade showed a pretty big gender gap among people under 50, with men opposing it only 52-44 while women oppose it 65-34. It's rare to see a stereotypically lefty issue where a big slice of the male demographic is 23 points left of women. I'm not sure what's going on there. Maybe moms (including otherwise reliably liberal single moms) are especially nervous about their kids smoking pot?

One big thing you see in all the polling data is that people are more open to legalizing marijuana than they were in decades past. The time is ripe for folks who don't give off a dirty hippie vibe to stand up for some form of legalization, moving the Overton window to where it's respectable enough that people who run for office can support it without too much risk.

In related news, Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams (who proclaimed that marijuana was 10 times better than Paxil for his social anxiety disorder) is running for more than 5 yards a carry this season, with zero fumbles. Keep it up, big guy.


corvus said...

Another possibility for the counter-intuitive gap is...most stoners are men. Yeah, it's stereotypical, but some stereotypes are stereotypes because they are true, more or less.

Neil Sinhababu said...

I guess that could be some part of it. But it's a big enough gap to resist total explanation in those terms, I think.

Ben said...

Hmm. I actually doubt that moms being worried about their kids smokin' up is a serious enough thing to account for the gap, although it would be interesting to see a study contrasting the attitudes about legalization of women with and without children.

My suspicion is that the explanation is much more basic than that... At least as a rule of thumb, women are culturally conditioned to be much more uptight about hedonistic fun activities in general than men. That's coded in all sorts of ways even in early childhood, then when girls hit adolescence and get really barraged in all kinds of subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways with the "women are the sole sexual gatekeepers" meme, it's really locked in on a deep psychological level.

I think all that might provide a broader picture to back up corvus' point about stoner percentages. Men are to a certain extent (though, obviously, a complicated and limited one) *supposed* to do rebellious, mildly naughty things--look at the whole Universal Sitcom Narrative, where Husband Has Wacky Schemes and Wife Reels Him In On Behalf Of Domestic Security--and to some extent still-smoking-when-you-get-older can embody that. (Note, for instance, the bong in the dudes' only room in the garage in "I Love You, Man.")

Neil Sinhababu said...

The uptightness-conditioning explanation seems plausible.

Unknown said...

Ben's explanation certainly has merit to it, but I also think that gender steretypes cut both ways. Men are often conditioned to feel that expressing feelings of vulnerability makes them weak, and so they seek distractions from these emotions rather than dealing with or confronting them. Pot and alcohol are both readily available, and socially acceptable means by which men can mask there anxiety, depression, what-have-you. As Ben said, though, there is definitely an expectation that "boys will be boys" as well that doesn't apply to women.