Generational factors make future of drug reform bright


The Appalachian Online

Kevin Griffin

In an unsurprising development, a North Carolina House of Representatives committee struck down a bill that would legalize medical marijuana for individuals with a “chronic, debilitating medical condition,” according to The News & Observer.

Despite its failure, the law attracted what many might consider to be unusual supporters.

Along with the liberal individuals and groups one would expect to support such measures were Republicans and military veterans – some of whom used marijuana for medical purposes, according to The News & Observer.

The political debate on this issue has always been strange. Although Republicans and conservatives enjoy touting their commitment to small, limited government, they have been some of the most fervent supporters of the War on Drugs.

Republicans have not been alone in enabling this moronic, decades-old policy. A number of Democrats have been in power during the time the War on Drugs has gone on and they have done nothing noteworthy to address to problem.

In fact, President Barack Obama spent more than $300 million enforcing drug laws in states that had legalized medical marijuana use, an amount greater than that was spent under George Bush, according to a June 2013 report from the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

As frustrating as it is to see this pointless War on Drugs continue at both the federal and state levels, there are a number of reasons for hope.

The infamous 2014 Chrominbus spending bill gave the cause a short-term victory by preventing the Justice Department from interfering with the laws of those states that have legalized medical marijuana.

In the long-term, the generational shift will be decisive in leading us in the direction of a sensible drug policy.

The majority of millennials support marijuana legalization in general, and this includes 63 percent of millennial Republicans, according to Pew Research. This presents a clear contrast of older individuals in both parties, who are less supportive of legalization.

These attitudes among the young, who will soon be in the position of making policy, signal the potential for actual progress.

Actions blocking those taken by the house committee against legalization of marijuana in any form are a desperate attempt by opponents to fight against what seems to be inevitable.

I just hope, if these misguided policies are not changed sooner, that we take the opportunity to change these policies when we are in a position to do so.

Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.

STORY: Kevin Griffin, Opinion Writer