Why marijuana's wholesome opponents are losing the debate.

The Decline of the Wholesome Anti-Marijuana Movement

The Decline of the Wholesome Anti-Marijuana Movement

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April 29 2014 12:46 PM

The Decline of the Wholesome, "Just Say No" Anti-Marijuana Movement

Nancy Reagan.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Atlantic today covers an under-discussed element of marijuana's rise to legality: the corresponding decline of "Just Say No"-style anti-weed activism. It's generally well-known that younger people are less afraid of pot than their generational predecessors. But why? Why haven't the concerned parents of the 1980s been able to pass their attitudes onto their kids? And before you say "because the fact is that marijuana is mostly benign and its increased acceptance is inevitable," bear in mind that, for a while, Just Say No seemed like it was working very well.

At its height in the mid-'90s, the Just Say No Foundation had more than 1 million members and affiliates in 12 countries, according to Cohen. There was a theme song and an annual rally in May. In 1996, fewer Americans (25 percent) told Gallup they supported the legalization of the drug than in 1977 (28 percent). As Michael Massing, the author of The Fix, an acclaimed 1998 book on the drug wars, concluded, "Based on the numbers, Nancy Reagan's crusade against marijuana certainly seemed to be paying off."

The story suggests a few possible answers; broadly, it asserts that marijuana has become culturally associated with adults rather than teenagers, which makes it less scary. Read the piece here.