There’s been a string of high-profile “confessions” from people who smoked pot in their younger days and are now willing to concede something along the lines of “it wasn’t that big of a deal.” This includes the leader of our nation, President Obama, who had admitted it in an earlier book he authored, but now has underlined it in his comments in a recent New Yorker article.
Despite what you think of their opinions and reasoning (my colleague Sharda Sekaran takes one of them to task in this post), they share a similar profile: they are successful, they are older, and they characterize their drug use as part of their youthful experience and in their past. They are expressing conclusions that a majority of Americans have already come to, whether publicly or privately – indeed, their statements echo what marijuana legalization advocates have been saying for decades.
The technology field has a term for these people: the “late majority.” And it made me wonder – thirty or forty years from now, what kind of “late majority” headlines are we going to be seeing when it comes to drug use? Given current drug use patterns and cultural caché, it could very well be stories about growing acceptance for MDMA. After all, the vast majority of young adults currently making their summer 2014 music festival plans will be into their 50s or 60s by then, alive and well, successful and established and ready to say, “Sure, I tried molly when I was young. It was fun – but I was careful, and eventually, I just didn’t have the energy for it anymore.”
Will the conversation around MDMA go that way? It’s hard to say. In order to have a “late majority” of people admitting past MDMA use in thirty or forty years, we’d have to have a group of “innovators” and “early adopters” willing to speak about their experience with the drug right now. We’d need people that know about MDMA’s history in couples’ therapy and how it’s currently being studied for its value in treating PTSD. We’d need people who understand the real story behind MDMA: what the risks are, what can be done to prevent or reduce them, why it’s so terribly wrong that people are arrested and imprisoned for using the drug, and why it’s worth it to do things differently.
I am extremely proud of my colleagues who have worked for years on marijuana law reform advocacy, and just as happy as they are that a growing number of people are voicing support for the things they’ve always known. But the conversation around marijuana use has moved forward so much in the past few years it has shone a spotlight on how far behind the conversation is on any other drug.
We need people to keep pushing the marijuana conversation forward, but there is so much room for innovators and early adopters to start telling stories about other drugs. I hope that, like me, you’ll be part of this group.
Stefanie Jones is the event manager for The Drug Policy Alliance.