One of the most encouraging signs of change for the movement to end marijuana prohibition has been the vastly increased level of mainstream media coverage it has received in the last year or so. Last week was no exception. When U.S. officials released new data showing the number of Americans both using and being arrested for marijuana had increased, MPP was there to put those findings in context, and mainstream media outlets all over the world helped to spread our message about the failure of prohibition and the need for a regulated marijuana market.
Here's a look at some highlights:
CNN's "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer:
Mike Meno, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, said the survey is more proof that the government's war on marijuana has failed in spite of decades of enforcement efforts and arrests.
"It's time we stop this charade and implement sensible laws that would tax and regulate marijuana the same way we do more harmful — but legal — drugs like alcohol and tobacco," Meno said.
(Note: This article was reprinted in literally hundreds of news outlets, and my quote was included among the AP's top quotations of the day.)
TOVIA SMITH (reporter): But advocates of legalizing marijuana insist the news that marijuana use is up only goes to show that cracking down on users doesn't work.
Mr. MIKE MENO (Marijuana Policy Project): The government's been sending the wrong message to people for decades by classifying marijuana alongside drugs like heroin and LSD. And they should just give it up.
SMITH: That's Mike Meno with the Marijuana Policy Project that supports making pot totally legal, as a ballot question in California this year would do. He says marijuana use isn't increasing because people see it as less harmful but rather because the sale of marijuana is uncontrolled and unregulated.
Mr. MENO: We need to apply the same type of sensible regulations that we do to alcohol and tobacco, two things that you need an ID to buy, that you need to be a licensed vendor to sell. Drug dealers who sell marijuana do not check IDs.
"What people are responding to is the realization that the government has been lying for decades and that marijuana is less harmful than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco," says Mike Meno, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which favors legalization.
[...] Polls indicate the [Proposition 19] has roughly a 50-50 chance of passing. Both marijuana advocates and opponents agree that passage would have an enormous impact, with other states likely to follow suit and the drug becoming more readily available to young people.
"If California were to pass Proposition 19, it would be revolutionary," says Meno, the Marijuana Policy Project spokesman. "People would see that the sky doesn't fall, the police will have more resources to fight crimes and there will be more revenues for local budgets."
The other big story last week was how the California Beer and Beverage Distributors were helping to fund the campaign against Prop. 19, which would end marijuana prohibition in California. Steve Fox, MPP's resident alcohol vs. marijuana guru, said the motivation behind the donation was clear -- "the alcohol industry is trying to kill the competition" -- and his comments were picked up by the Sacramento Bee, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Oakland Tribune, among others.
As more and more mainstream media outlets help to shine a light on the failure of (and motivation behind) marijuana prohibition, it's going to be increasingly difficult for our opposition to continue denying reality and maintain the failed status quo.
Find out how you can help MPP keep up the pressure in the media by visiting here.