After this month’s election, just one piece of the West Coast remained unwelcoming to recreational marijuana: California.
But with voters in Oregon and Alaska legalizing the use and sale of marijuana — joining Washington and Colorado in inviting retail spreads of cannabis-infused teas and brownies and joints — advocates see fresh momentum behind the slow shift in how the public regards the green stuff and those who enjoy it.
“I see a parallel — not a perfect parallel, but a parallel — with marriage equality,” said Ben Tulchin, a San Francisco-based pollster who has watched sympathy for both same-sex unions and marijuana climb. “The first battle you may lose, like in California, but you start a conversation and get the dialogue going. … And you eventually see a very big shift.”
California, alongside Arizona and Nevada, have legalization measures in the works for the 2016 election, when the presidential race is expected to deliver younger voters to the polls who tend to be more supportive of pot. Proponents are considering other states as well.
“I got to believe that the wins this week, coupled with the wins in 2012, will provide momentum,” Tulchin said.
The increasing support for the drug is the result of a number of factors, say marijuana supporters, who for decades made little progress.