By Amber Langston, National Cannabis Coalition
In light of the recent Miss USA pageant, I would like to note that the directors there have done an enormous courtesy in asking all contestants their opinion on marijuana legalization, along with a few other preliminary questions which you can view on Youtube. It is interesting to get a cross section of the women (at least, debutante type women) across the country who are supposedly representing each of the states that make up our political body, and hear what they have to say on this issue. After two questions about themselves and one about pornography, each contestant was asked, “Do you believe marijuana should be legalized?”
I live in Missouri; my allies on the coasts have long lamented how we in the middle will be the last for change. However, I have noticed a lot of thoughtful and confident answers coming from women in many of the central parts of the country in support of cannabis legalization, and I don’t believe that we would have heard these answers five or ten years ago. Miss USA wants to win. Miss USA wants to be diplomatic and do the most good for all. Is it possible that the best thing for us all is to regulate and tax cannabis? Should we allow adults to do what they want to do if it doesn’t hurt other people, as Miss Nevada suggested when it comes to pornography? Or is pornography okay because you pay taxes, as Miss Florida believes, but not if you consume cannabis?
Publicly stating that legalization of cannabis is the better option for our country is something that takes a lot of balls from some feminine ladies who are doing a careful act on a tightrope to achieve their goals as Miss USA 2012. Although a Rasmussen poll put America strongly in favor of legalization at 56% just two weeks ago, the poll came out just after this interview — so I doubt the women in this contest were aware of the bolstered support they would have for their bravery. Indeed a number of ladies seemed to waffle with non-committal on legalization with support for medical — there’s too many to name them all, but some of the ones you might find most interesting include: Miss Florida, Miss Nevada, Miss Pennsylvania, Miss Mississippi, Miss West Virgininia.
Arizona, California, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington (though to be fair, Washington is waffling) all stated support for full legalization, representing 20% of the Miss USA constituency, as compared with 56% of the American constituency. Miss California, hailing from the state most influenced by the marijuana market, hoped it would prevent illegal buying and selling, thereby reducing crime in neighborhoods getting their living from an unregulated market. Miss Kentucky recognized that it’s her state’s biggest “cash crop”, and that legalization should accompany personal responsibility — a novel idea in today’s world. But frankly, Miss Tennessee said it all as far as I am concerned. Overall, the economic argument seemed to be the most persuasive argument for those in favor, though some expressed doubt.
I am most pleased that women in some of the most seemingly unlikely places are having the courage to state their favor for legalization — 10 out of 51 contestants (20%) were in support, and nearly everyone touted the benefits of medical marijuana. The only representatives in the ‘nug’atory were from Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia. Seemingly, these ladies don’t believe in even listening to your doctor’s consent!
Overall, I would have to say that I am encouraged by the public discussion on this issue. I couldn’t be more elated to know that, “what do you think of marijuana legalization?” is a softball question for Miss USA candidates. We’re about to end cannabis prohibition — and that’s a great thing.
Update: Miss Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo, has been crowned as Miss USA. She supports legalizing medical marijuana but does not support legalization for recreational use as she believes marijuana consumption to be a “bad habit” without economic or other benefits. Interestingly, this answer follows her statements on pornography, during which she supports the right of individuals to consume pornography because it is a “free country”. You can view her video here.
Published with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition