Even as a growing number of states are enacting legalization laws, stigma around marijuana is alive and well in the United States—at least according to a recent survey about the kinds of bumper stickers America’s drivers are willing to put on their vehicles.
Drivers said they would be less open to displaying a cannabis-related decal than ones featuring messages surrounding other controversial topics, such as politics, religion, gun ownership or even President Trump.
Of those who wouldn’t sport a cannabis bumper sticker on their cars, most said they worried it would affect how police would perceive them.
The survey of 1,195 people asked whether drivers would be willing to display various bumper-sticker messages, including their “support for/opposition to marijuana.” Of all the topics asked about, cannabis was the least popular, with only 34 percent of respondents saying they’d consider such a decal.
By comparison, 53 percent said they would be willing to advertise their views on gun ownership, 44 percent said they would display their religious identity and 42 percent said they would share their stance on President Trump.
The survey was conducted by SafeHome.org, a website that publishes consumer information about home and personal safety. The company acknowledges that the data “rely on self-reporting,” which doesn’t always provide the most reliable conclusions. “There are many issues with self-reported data,” the site points out. “These issues include, but are not limited to, selective memory, telescoping, attribution and exaggeration.”
The poll nevertheless provides a glimpse into what at least some Americans are thinking when they weigh what views to broadcast on the road.
When drivers who said they wouldn’t display marijuana messages were asked what made them hesitate, 59 percent said they believed it would “affect how police perceive me.” Nearly half (45 percent) said they thought “it looks tacky”—more than any other topic but Trump.
Roughly a third of drivers who said they wouldn’t sport a cannabis bumper sticker said the topic was too personal (35 percent), it would affect how other drivers would perceive them (32 percent) or that they simply didn’t care enough about it (31 percent).
The survey also asked respondents about whether they believed their existing bumper stickers had indeed attracted unwanted attention, either from police or fellow drivers. Marijuana, however, was not included in that section of the survey. Among issues people believed they were pulled over unfairly for, “endorsement of racial identity/equality” ranked highest. When it came to aggression from other drivers, “support of/opposition to President Trump” was the top response.
Whether or not a weed bumper sticker makes someone more likely to be pulled over, it’s easy to see why drivers may have that fear. In many states, law enforcement organizations remain among the most stubborn opponents to legalization, and among their most common arguments is that legalization will make America’s roads more dangerous. Available data, however, are less clear on that subject.
Some research has found that traffic fatalities went down after legalization while overall accidents went up, a result that could be the result of drivers drinking less alcohol. The effects also seem to vary from state to state. A 2019 congressional report acknowledged the lack of a clear consensus on marijuana’s impact on driver safety. “Although laboratory studies have shown that marijuana consumption can affect a person’s response times and motor performance,” the Congressional Research Service wrote, “studies of the impact of marijuana consumption on a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash have produced conflicting results, with some studies finding little or no increased risk of a crash from marijuana usage.”
Cannabis, of course, is also the only item in the new bumper sticker survey that is directly attributable to motor impairment. That, combined with the fact that marijuana remains illegal in much of the country, is likely to make drivers think twice about slapping a weed-friendly bumper sticker on the back of their car.
Despite the controversy, however, most Americans support legalization at rates of between 60 percent and 70 percent, according to recent national polls. And a recent YouGov survey found that 55 percent of respondents said that legalization was either a complete success or “more of a success than a failure.”
Constitutionally speaking, Americans have a First Amendment right to political speech, and courts have ruled that bumper stickers generally fall under that protection. And political statements, even those supporting marijuana or its legalization in areas where it’s still illegal, aren’t themselves evidence that a person has violated any laws.
In practice, however, it’s still possible for law enforcement to target individuals for mundane reasons like bumper stickers only to later cite a different, more valid reason to justify a traffic stop. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems the best way to avoid attention when driving is to keep your car au naturel: Vehicles with at least one controversial decal on them, the SafeHome.org survey found, were almost three times more likely to be pulled over during the past year.
Musician John Legend Endorses Drug Decriminalization Ballot Measure In Oregon
Musician John Legend on Friday endorsed an Oregon initiative to decriminalize possession of all currently illicit drugs while investing in substance misuse treatment.
The singer-songwriter, who has consistently used his platform to champion criminal justice reform issues, encouraged Oregonians to approve the measure as part of a Twitter thread on numerous state-level ballot initiatives.
“I support Measure 110 to decriminalize drug possession and fund more treatment services,” he said. “Please [Vote Yes on 110] to reform the criminal justice system.”
— John Legend (@johnlegend) October 23, 2020
The proposal would make Oregon the first state in the country to remove the threat of jail time for simple drug possession, and it would put money toward substance misuse treatment with the help of marijuana tax dollars.
Support for the reform move has come from several unique directions this election cycle.
The Oregon Democratic Party formally endorsed Measure 110 earlier this month, as well as a separate proposal to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes.
🗳️✅Vote YES on Measure 110: Instead of arresting and jailing people for personal possession of small amounts of drugs, would expand access to drug treatment services paid for by marijuana taxes. @voteYESon110 #orpol
— Oregon Democrats (@ORDems) September 23, 2020
A foundation run by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife contributed $500,000 to the decriminalization campaign.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is also backing the initiative, in addition to the psilocybin measure.
“Measure 110 will help shift Oregon to a health-based approach to a health-based drug addiction crisis,” the congressman said. “This is more compassionate, more effective, safer, and simple common sense.”
While Legend’s endorsement brings some celebrity attention to the issue, it’s not the first time he’s voice support for ending drug criminalization.
Asked in 2018 about what policies he’d enact in a position of political power, the musician said he’d “decriminalize drugs—treat drugs as a public health issue and not as a criminal issue.”
“I think a lot of people think if we lock more people up, people won’t do as many drugs. But what ends up happening is, we aren’t really solving the problem of drug demand by waging a war on drugs when people are still finding ways to get drugs. And the drug overdose problem is still huge. You would think, you know, criminalizing it and making it tougher on people that get caught would actually help solve the problem, but it doesn’t. I think legalizing marijuana is the first step, but I think going beyond that—realizing that the war on drugs was never a good idea, and that we should treat drug addiction as a health problem instead of a criminal problem—is the answer.”
The decriminalization campaign also recently rolled out a series of TV and online ads promoting the measure.
The advertisements, which feature people from a diversity of backgrounds speaking to their personal experiences with the drugs and the criminal justice system, came as mail-in ballots were being distributed to registered voters.
These spots aren’t the first ads that Oregonians may have seen from the campaign. It launched its first video urging a “yes” vote on the decriminalization initiative in August.
Photo courtesy of Flickr/William Haun.
Colorado Governor Tells Texas Not To Legalize Marijuana So His Own State Can Get More Tourists
The governor of Colorado is jokingly discouraging Texas from legalizing marijuana, saying it would mean less tax revenue for his own state from cannabis tourism.
Gov. Jared Polis (D) was responding to a Marijuana Moment report on a new economic analysis that showed how Texas stands to generate billions in tax revenue and tens of thousands of jobs if it enacted the policy change.
That analysis might be true, the governor tweeted, “BUT it would reduce tourism to Colorado, so make sure to consider Colorado first in any Texas decisions.”
Yes BUT it would reduce tourism to Colorado, so make sure to consider Colorado first in any Texas decisions https://t.co/5Gh8bNBKu0
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) October 20, 2020
Polis has been known to quip about the marijuana tourism dollars his state receives from non-residents.
Shortly after he was sworn in last year, the governor said “we get a lot of extra business from people coming into our state” and so “from the economic perspective in Colorado, I’d love other states to go slowly so that we can continue to see all these benefits for Colorado.”
“For years, I’d been sort of countering this sort of dire picture of Colorado,” he said. “But again, if they think that it’s bad, it’s better for us to have less competition at this point. So I mean, if I’m looking at it as governor, I would hope they halt their efforts and send all their business here.”
That said, despite his interest in preserving cannabis tourism for Colorado, during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session in May, he jokingly entertained the idea of using hypnosis to convince Ohio’s governor to advance legalization in the state.
While he’s been quick to note the economic benefits of regulating marijuana sales, Polis has also emphasized the need for restorative justice in the industry. Earlier this month, he exercised new clemency powers to grant nearly 3,000 pardons for people convicted of low-level marijuana possession.
Meanwhile, Polis isn’t alone in touting the fact that his state sells legal marijuana to people who live in places where it is still prohibited.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), during his State of the State speech earlier this year, talked about how his state’s new recreational cannabis market “gives us a chance to collect tax revenue from the residents of Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa and Indiana.”
Indeed, the state has continued to see record-breaking cannabis sales month after month, including tens of millions of dollars worth to out-of-state residents.
Launch Of Maine’s Legal Marijuana Sales Inspires Rambling Police Department Facebook Post
A member of a local Maine police department has some thoughts about the state’s newly launched marijuana retail system. In fact, he has a lot of thoughts—and he laid them all out in a rambling 1,400-word Facebook post on Saturday. The diatribe touches on everything from Phish festivals to drug-sniffing dogs to the medical benefits of cannabis to sweet chili Doritos.
Lt. Tim Cotton of the Bangor Police Department took over the agency’s social media page, advising people about the policy change, discussing the ban on cannabis use among law enforcement, sprinkling in a few stoner stereotypes and seemingly sympathizing with tobacco consumers who face their own restrictions. He said he’s been “inundated with incoming questions” about what’s allowed in the new retail market.
For what it’s worth, Maine voters legalized marijuana though a ballot initiative in 2016, but it took until last week to implement a commercial sales component. That’s a significant delay in bringing a retail market online compared to California, Massachusetts and Nevada, which also legalized for adult-use on the same day four years ago.
Cotton recommended that people read up on state statutes for any questions they might have, or to ask “your friendly and professional purveyor of marijuana.”
In any case, the lieutenant took the opportunity presented by incoming cannabis-related inquiries to run the gamut on marijuana policy in his post. While it might not have been especially informative on the nuances of the market rules, the comments section is filled with people thanking him for the lively dialogue.
Here are some notable excerpts from the post.
On his own eating habits.
“I already snack like a 70s stoner, and I have been known to partake in both Hostess cupcakes and sweet chili Doritos within the same half-hour period. Years of black coffee and stale doughnuts have made my stomach both larger, and cast iron. I don’t even need to chew Tums or Rolaids after a road-trip that is littered with empty bags of delightful and deep-fried tubers, Mountain Dew, and Whoppers containing self-installed banana peppers..because the King really doesn’t supply those burgers exactly ‘my way.'”
On personal use and police policy.
“This is not me complaining about the fact that cops can’t partake in recreational marijuana usage. It’s merely me advising you to avoid passing the fatty to the cop who happens to be standing between you and the next person in your ‘therapy’ group at the next Phish festival. It’s best if we don’t become involved in the ritual of passing of the happy salad to your friend, Kevin, even though he has really short arms ever since he has been lifting heavy.
“Just ask us to get out of the way so the party can continue uninterrupted by the guy with the bad moustache and the pistol.
“For the record, I don’t smoke cigarettes or medicine. As for the recreational use of marijuana, Federal statutues [sic] disallow your local, county, and state employed gendarme from partaking in dabs, doobies, and bong-hits as we— apparently—are not actually regular citizens, but merely a class of individual who should not stoned or buzzed while enforcing laws and such. I have to agree.
“For you? Smoke away my friends. Check the rules at the State of Maine website, you must be twenty-one-years-old to stop referring to weed as medicine, at least, in front of your mom and dad who you have derided for years for having a couple of Swisher Sweet stogies at the poker game. And, yes, I am talking about dear mother. She also cheats at cards. We love that woman.”
On marijuana terminology.
“One of the upsides in the new rules regarding the recreational use of Marijuana is that I no longer will have to worry about misusing the terms, caregiver, medicine, herbal therapy, and patient when I am engaged in conversations with humans who chose to partake in the ingestion of plant-based herbal calming smoke.
“No, these conversations were not work related. These were the terms that I was forced to use at family reunions and other events when my great nephew piped up and said, ‘Hey, be careful! He’s a cop. I think he’s wearing a wire.'”
On tobacco regulations.
“I have found it somewhat disconcerting that the entire world has deemed all forms of smoke ingestion to be a repulsive and filthy habit, while also telling me that filterless hand-rolled firesticks of the finest backyard-grown Mary. J. Wauna has zero negative effect on lung function. I’m no doctor, and I am not the boss of you.
“You see, the people who smoke cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and all manner of tobacco products have been literally shunned and thrown outside in cold weather, hurricanes, and winter storms for the last thirty-years.
“They are forced to walk five-hundred-feet away from the doorways of buildings. No one even supplies a burn-barrel for them to keep their hands warm. I worry about how they feel. Because they have feelings, too. No one ever lets them refer to themselves as caregivers when they pass the menthol-filtered tobacco torch to their friend who is short on cash and can’t afford to pay two hours wages so they can have their own pack of cigarettes.
“They’ve been taxed, tormented, and ridiculed for a very long time. I like to show a bit of support for the little guy with a ‘fresh pack of Luckys and a mint called Sen-Sen.’ And, I refuse to judge him for his use of Old Spice aftershave.”
On drug-sniffing dogs.
“FYI- Bangor Police Department dogs are not trained to sniff out your marijuana, that would be really dumb, because it is now legal. We saw this coming. Our dogs do sniff out lost people, evidence at crime scenes, and illegal narcotics. Don’t get all hinky and bolt across town if you see Aki, Raye, or Jessie when you are carrying some shake and a half pack of ZigZags, you’ll be tired for no reason. Relax.”
The post also features purported interjected notes from Bangor Police Department’s “legal team” that is later revealed not to even exist and was all written by Cotton himself.
For more clear directions on the legal sales system in Maine, residents might want to turn to policymakers like U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who last week shared a Portland Press Herald article about what people should know before they go to a new cannabis dispensary.
Starting tomorrow, recreational marijuana goes on sale in Maine!
— Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) October 8, 2020
“Do your research before waiting in line,” she advised.
In nearby Vermont, things are also changing when it comes to marijuana sales. A bill to legalize cannabis commerce in the state was enacted without Gov. Phil Scott’s (R) signature last week, though it will still take up to two years to license dispensaries based on the timeline.