There are many trends in modern society, but determining which ones are relevant to modern society can be a difficult task. Of the many trends that deserve merit, I believe the reform of marijuana laws over the last decade is one of the most important. This reform comes because of a conglomeration of causes, of which NORML, President Barack Obama’s policy on drugs and the recent legalization in Colorado and Washington states are at the heart. The first and largest of the reasons for marijuana reform is the organization known country-wide as NORML. NORML, or the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws, is an organization dedicated to the reform of laws pertaining to marijuana. NORML works to inform the public about marijuana and to support political figures who endorse marijuana reform, in doing so they are changing the mindset of the general public to accept marijuana. Of their publications they produce the most widespread and accessible are magazines, fliers, public speeches from notable persons in their organization, and electronic media like blogs and Twitter. Through their publications they have increased awareness about marijuana, thus increasing the support base of “pro-marijuana” individuals. A “pro-marijuana” individual is classified as an eligible voter who is for the reform of marijuana laws. Though there is not really any age group that has defined NORML, the majority of their support base stems from individuals in the 18-29 year old age group. They have concentrated on the younger generation of eligible voters in the United States because, as time has shown us, this group is the next to inherit the mantle of governance in this country. As this new generation of policy makers takes office we have seen marijuana come to the front stage, and to take control of the future it has. Secondly, the reform of marijuana can be seen in the drug policy of our current president. Currently, president Barack Obama has made his policy on marijuana usage is that his administration had, and I quote, “bigger fish to fry”. (qtd. in Gwynne p.22) Also, there has been a small, but sizeable decline in the arrests made upon marijuana related offenses. These marijuana related offenses range from possession charges all the way up to the sale and/or manufacture of marijuana. According to the FBI there were 757,969 arrests in 2011 for all marijuana charges. From the years 2006 to 2010, there were over 800,000 arrests annually (Armentano p.1). Even though fifty thousand arrests do not seem like a large decline in arrests, this is due to the presidents’ drug policy. Also one third of Americans admit to using marijuana (Danovitch p.1). If we use the most current census data, it can be seen that over 104 million American citizens have used marijuana. Two things can be seen from these figures. First that many, many Americans use marijuana and second that law enforcement is taking a more lenient stand on marijuana. Through the leniency of law enforcement we can infer that even the people who enforce the law are starting to accept, and in some cases even embrace marijuana reform.
Thirdly, there have been many public officials and policy makers who have admitted to using marijuana at some point in their life. Al Gore, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Newt Gingrich, former NY governor George Pataki, and the U.S. senate candidate from Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee just to name a few (Tokin’). All of these policy makers have publicly admitted that they used marijuana during high school and/or college. In 1987 Al Gore admitted to using marijuana while an undergrad at Harvard University, during his time in Vietnam, and while he worked as a reporter in Nashville, Tennessee (Tokin’). This admission by notable public figures has served to promote the reform of marijuana laws in that the public mindset is usually connected to such leaders as Al Gore or Newt Gingrich.