Last week, we noted that actress Susan Sarandon is voicing robocalls on behalf of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. Now, a new website, MarijuanaMajority.com, is pushing such measures here and elsewhere using the words of other notables who've questioned drug policy, including Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, seen here. And the man behind the site thinks social media pressure will lead to more recruits.
"Think marijuana laws will never change in the U.S.?" asks the introductory passage at the top of the site's main page. Immediately below, the text sites statistics ("81 percent support medical marijuana, 72 percent support no jail time for marijuana, 50 percent support legalizing marijuana") that suggest such a shift is not only possible but inevitable.
That's followed by an enormous gallery of celebrities, politicians, media figures and more, all of whom have made public comments critical of the war on drugs. And they're not all progressive figures. For instance, the following comments from NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous....
...are juxtaposed against remarks by David Koch, a millionaire investor in conservative causes who's typically demonized by the left: What's the idea behind these messages? According to Marijuana Majority chairman Tom Angell, a longtime marijuana-reform activist (he's also the spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), the site is meant to reassure voters in Colorado, plus those in Washington and Oregon, where marijuana measures are also on the ballot, that legalization has become a thoroughly mainstream position.
"The other well-established organizations in the drug-policy-reform movement do a very good job of making the policy-focused case on why these laws need to change," Angell says. "Most sensible-thinking people already realize that. But the problem is, they perceive this as some dangerous, third-rail issue, and that speaking out will somehow harm them politically. So what we've decided to do is supplement all the other good work of the other organizations with this important social cue -- letting people know that when they speak out, they're not sticking their neck out. They're joining a majority of Americans, including some of the most prominent voices from across the political spectrum.
"When people like [Christian broadcaster] Pat Robertson and [progressive comedian] Bill Maher agree on something, that's probably something lawmakers should take a look at," he adds. "And it lets people know that if they speak out on this, they're not going to be attacked by the far right or by the far left. They'll be applauded by people across the political spectrum."
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Continue to read more about MarijuanaMajority.com, and see more celebrity and politician comments. Of course, such views are far from universal -- and Smart Colorado, the No on 64 campaign, regularly criticizes people from outside the state who back the amendment. Their claim: Colorado is being used as a pawn by pot activists from across the country who are pushing a personal agenda without regard to whether it will hurt people here. Angell's response?
"I'm sad to say that for those opponents, polls are showing more Colorado voters agree with us than agree with them right now," he replies. "And maybe they should realize who this movement is really comprised of. It's a lot of people from Colorado, but it's also people everywhere who are tired of these prohibition policies and want to see them ended.
"For people outside of Colorado to support the Colorado initiative makes perfect sense," he goes on, "because one state has to be the first state to spark a movement across the country and across the globe. People are waiting for this to happen."
Given the initiatives up for votes in the three aforementioned states, Colorado might wind up joining at least one other in breaking the legal barrier, Angell allows. "Things are looking really good in Washington," he says. "Oregon is a little bit closer of a race; some of the polls have the 'yes' side down a little. But in Washington, it's perhaps looking even better than in Colorado, which is looking good in its own right. I think Colorado and Washington have a greater than 50-50 chance to make history two weeks from tomorrow."
In the meantime, the multiple measures "really takes away the whole we-can't-be-the-first one argument," he feels. "If two states step forward together during the same election, it's really going to embolden people around the country and make the federal government that much more reluctant than it otherwise would be to bully one state. That would be four U.S. Senators they'd need to deal with, instead of just two."
Before that, however, Angell wants potential voters to let their voices be heard not only in conversation, but when it comes to social media.
"If people realize marijuana prohibition has failed and needs to end, they should not be afraid to say that to people they know -- and not be afraid to say it on the web," he notes. "So what we want people to do is come to the site, look at this huge number of prominent faces they recognize, and then share that content on Facebook and Twitter. If you're a twenty-something in California and you share Pat Robertson's quote on your Facebook news feed, perhaps your aunt in Colorado will see it and realize that perhaps this debate is more prominent than she previously thought."
Moreover, Angell hopes site visitors will be able to persuade people who haven't voiced their opinions about marijuana policy to do so. As an example, he mentions The Office's Rainn Wilson, who's from Washington. He's on the MarijuanaMajority.com page as well, but with a question mark over his face, as seen here:
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The concept? "Our hope is that people will tweet him about saying what he thinks about this initiative on the ballot. And if people like him get tweet after tweet, they may respond and add their voice."
No former Coloradans are included in the question-mark club thus far, but Angell's on the lookout for people with ties to the state and a big Twitter presence. And if they speak out in favor of Amendment 64, he wants them to know they'll have plenty of company.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana activist says Obama campaign using 'Harold and Kumar' clip to hide bad policies."