The recent election in November and the World Cup that took place over the summer in Brazil showed two important things about Americans: we are evolving socially and we know how to come together for a fun cause. Marijuana and soccer, once uncommon words in the American lexicon, are some of the hottest topics amongst millennials.
Americans have come a long way since the release of the movie Reefer Madness in 1936 that associated marijuana use with manslaughter, suicide, rape, and madness. Any American who would watch this movie today would laugh at its preposterousness and inaccuracy. But even during the 1980s, more than 60% of Americans were opposed to legalizing marijuana, and that number didn’t drop below 60% until after 2005. So what has made Americans change their minds now?
Certainly, one cause is that millennials are overeducated and are products of the Internet age, a time when people have access to unlimited amounts of information and opinions. With the Internet, we can read news from other countries and study laws and policy from other countries. More importantly, Americans can meet and communicate with foreigners without even leaving their basement. At the same time, more American students are studying abroad than ever before, facilitating unprecedented amounts of cultural learning and exchange. Lastly, millennials can vote now. Any millennial born after 1996 is eligible to vote and marijuana is a big issue, mostly because anti-marijuana laws have directly affected them or their friends.
Another factor is that the proponents of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s have now become leaders within society. The generation that grew up with Reefer Madness is slowly dying out and so are their laws. The newest leaders (aka the baby boomers) grew up in an era with social unrest and witnessed marijuana become a countercultural drug. Nowadays, a large majority of baby boomers view the illegality of marijuana as irrational and hypocritical, since most of them see nothing wrong with the drug and probably have used marijuana at least once in their lives themselves.