« How Quickly we (Pretend) to Forget | Main | Pot Prohibition: a complete history... »

August 31, 2010

The Importance of Demographics

My decision to accept the invitation of an Oakland cannabis “club” owner to do the required medical screening of people seeking a “recommendation” to use cannabis (and thus qualify as his customers) in compliance with Proposition 215 was motivated mostly by curiosity. I already had a strong belief that US marijuana policy was terribly misguided and harbored the naive conviction it could be “reformed” on the basis of logical arguments once the dimensions of its failure were understood by enough people. But I had no specific plan for how to bring that about.

Even worse, I had no idea of how seriously that judgment understated our government's commitment to its self-induced drug problem or how daunting the idea of changing our drug policy might become.

In any event, it took a few months before I saw the required patient encounters as the opportunity for a unique study of illegal marijuana use. Even then, the task of designing such a controversial project on the fly while continuing to record data took more time than projected. Thus it wasn’t until early 2007, when I was analyzing data from the first four thousand applicants that I tumbled to the significance of their demographics, specifically their dates of birth.

The item itself was simple and straightforward, but its significance is profound and far reaching: only four percent of the first four thousand applicants seen were born before 1946. By default, the rest were all Baby Boomers or Post Boomers.

To fast forward: what that suggests to me at least, that our federal government has missed the significance of the youthful rebellion that suddenly became manifest in the mid-Sixties. Thus rather than attempting to understand and adapt to one of the the most important social developments of the Twentieth Century, America has remained committed to suppressing it with an amalgam of ad-hoc propaganda and repressive law enforcement; with tragic consequences.

The significance and complex ramifications of that hypothesis will be explored in future posts.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 31, 2010 06:56 PM