This week, Uruguay continued to collect props from around the world. The Economist
named it Country of the Year, and not just for their recent victory in implementing common-sense pot reform. The article cites the nation's progressive approach to marriage equality as something that "increases the global sum of human happiness at no financial cost." This unmeasurable sum, which should be the basis for every law made, ever, seems to be the central goal for President Mujica, praised for an uncommon humility symbolized by his beat up Volkswagen Beetle.
But not everyone is as psyched about this unconventional leadership as The Economist
. Rather than finding inspiration in Paraguay's unprecedented leap, Brazil is sizing up to increase anti-trafficking efforts
. While initially a lame sentiment, Brazil is a much larger country with its own unique set of drug issues, and they take a progressive stance toward possession and consumption. The fact that a nation otherwise reasonable on drugs is taking precautions in response to its neighbor's new legality signals an expected initial backlash. It's hard to control the guaranteed uptick in trafficking when the grass is greener on the other side of the border.
And as the perception changes here in the US, teens are indeed electing that grass is greener, which an increasing number of high school kids reporting occasional or regular use of cannabis. Christian Science Monitor reports
that the perceived risk of smoking weed is lower than ever, which lends itself to more weed-smoking. We recently learned from a New York Times report
that weed may actually serve as a substitute for alcohol among young people, and that such a switch would create a reduction in the social ills associated with alcohol. On top of that, the National Institute of Health survey cited by the Monitor reports a decrease in teen tobacco use is markedly dropping as cannabis use rises. Imagine that: a substance that serves as a substitute for both alcohol and tobacco that has a mere fraction of the negative side effects.
The standard argument against teen use consistently relies on a fear of stunting their brain development, but rarely is that argument made against teen drinking, which is arguably more damaging on both a personal and a social level. Such detractions targeting cannabis, which we've seen made by bullshit-spinning operations like The Institute on Global Drug Policy, are a quickly waning remnant of arcane propaganda, and their credibility finds less public support every day.
So overall...WE'RE WINNING!!!
T. Kid is the author of VICE’s Weediquette column and editor-in-chief of Karmaloop. Follow him on Twitter: @ImYourKid