I'm starting to think marijuana legalization is about at the place marriage equality was ten or so years ago.And I won't be shocked if we are in the early stages of a similar very swift shift in public opinion.
The analogy isn't perfect and I'm not arguing an equivalence, but the political dynamic is similar.
We're seeing the same tentative state level steps, with medical legalization as the halfway measure, like the civil union was, and now Colorado and Washington voting for full legalization. Those were by initiative, so we're seeing the same people ahead of politicians dynamic. There's the same age-related divide, with pre-baby boomers opposed and the boomers and younger in support.
The drug war also fractures the conservative coalition along the same divide, with the self-appointed moralists on one side and the less-government libertarians on the other.
The biggest difference I see right now is the dignity factor. The LGBT movement has grown its message and support to the point where they can't simply be dismissed with the same old tired mocking stereotypes. In the public eye, the Village People have been pushed off stage by the lifelong committed couples. The opponents have lost a lot of their name-calling power and have to retreat into rhetoric about their religious "right" to prejudice.
But talk about the drug war, and politicians and press are still making jokes about the munchies and Cheech and Chong. I haven't got the vision yet to see what replaces that, but it's time to stop cracking the jokes -_ I've been guilty, too - and start calling it out when we see it.