Opinion Brief

Can marijuana save the Democrats in November?

A handful of states are voting to loosen marijuana laws. Could pot do for Democrats what anti-gay-marriage measures did for Republicans in 2004?

As many as six states will be voting in November on measures to loosen laws banning marijuana use, with California going so far to propose decriminalizing (and taxing) the drug for all adults. That might help Democrats, says The Atlantic's Joshua Green, since legalizing marijuana is popular among younger voters, who tend to both vote Democratic and sit out midterm elections. Could pro-pot measures push unenthusiastic Democrats to the polls, as gay-marriage bans did for Republicans in 2004?

It worked for Karl Rove: Rove's gay-marriage strategy did ensure that a "presumably significant" number of "red-blooded social conservatives" pulled the lever for President George W. Bush, says Caleb Hannan in Seattle Weekly. But nobody knows how many. So while pot legalization as a get-out-the-vote motivator "does pass the smell test," it's based more on theory than hard data."Will Washington Democrats be hurt by the lack of a pro-pot initiative?"

It's a risky strategy: Enticing "young, liberal voters" to the voting booth with the chance to decriminalize marijuana does sound pretty smart, in theory, says Dan Amira in New York Magazine. The catch, of course, is that pot advocates are "a dangerous group to rely on." An "army of stoners" is way more easily distracted than stoked Republicans who "fancy themselves modern-day revolutionaries.""Will stoners save the Democrats?"

The cannabis issue is ripe for GOP poaching: Legalizing pot is a great way to "fire up young adults," says Jon Walker in FiredogLake, but, so far, establishment Democrats are hardly taking advantage of it. That means Republicans "still have the opportunity to grab the pro-legalization mantle," which is actually a good fit for many Republicans' "libertarian desire for smaller government.""Are new marijuana initiatives the democrats' gay marriage?"

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