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June 16th, 2005
03:56 pm
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... Huh.
You all know, I'm assuming, how much the Bush administration has galvanized me politically. If nothing else, I've been keeping a far closer eye on the national mood since he dragged us into Iraq and stole won a second election.

Which is why I did a double-take when I stumbled across this map today:
(Click to enlarge)


Granted, the effect would be a little stronger if the mapmakers had reversed the blue and the red, but political junkies might be interested in what sort of data is producing a map that has such an interesting (if not necessarily powerful) degree of correlation with the famous old election results.

The answer is a map of relative rates of marijuana use.

Is marijuana a "liberal" drug? If so, is that affecting the political climate around it and its medical and recreational use? Discuss.

Current Mood: workingNeeding a political icon
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From:paka
Date:June 16th, 2005 11:38 pm (UTC)
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Artifactual.

Both coasts and states such as Michigan or Minnesota have populations with a wider array of media and social influences; simply the idea of using, and availability that would allow for marijuana use, is something that happens in those regions and really doesn't penetrate as much to interior areas. Not everyone in Wisconsin or Maine is sucking down huge bowls of green, but they have more of a chance to do so than people in Georgia or Alabama.

Less diverse areas (in terms of media and cultural influences) would be an "easy sell" for the Republican party and the Christian right no matter what no nmatter what you did, or didn't, smoke.
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From:johno
Date:June 16th, 2005 11:44 pm (UTC)
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Notice these are also areas with large chunks of wilderness or farm land.

Michigan, for example, has huge areas in the back woods growing pot. Being a wetter zone, not much "farming" needs to be done. Plant the crops, tend them a little, harvest before the cops find it.

Farm areas, such as the Mississippi Valley, it's easy for a farm hand to "convert" a chunk of the far far far north 40 to growing pot or mixing in with other crops. Then the regular irrigation and feeding cycles are automatically taken care of.

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From:mithent
Date:June 16th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
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Certainly a very liberal attitude would be that people should be allowed to take whatever drugs they like, and it could be argued that heavy users of marijuana would be a little more liberal, on average, than those who do not - non-users would equally cover the whole spectrum, but there would not be that skew factor.

There is also the argument that wealthier and perhaps more disillusioned people with a lifestyle more productive towards taking recreational drugs live on the coasts, and these are also where most liberals tend to be; the correlation may be coincidental.

On a personal note, I consider myself to be liberal, but in no way would I support any relaxation of drug laws. In general, I would go by the ideal of all actions being permissable if they do not harm anyone; drug usage, however, indirectly supports organised crime, and it would certainly make me very uncomfortable being around people using drugs - hence affecting me.
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From:queenofstripes
Date:June 17th, 2005 12:16 am (UTC)
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Um... don't you think there's more than a little bit of a tautology in that last statement? "Drug use supports organized crime, therefore it should stay illegal." But, er, if drug use were no longer illegal, it would also no longer be enormously profitable as an item of contraband. Legitimate sellers could easily undercut illegitimate ones, and there would be much less motive for criminal syndicates to traffic in drugs. That's commonly cited as a major argument for relaxation of drug laws. Besides, I feel your argument really holds no water at all in the case of marijuana -- it grows. Anybody with a closet and $100 to spend on lighting equipment and a time can very easily cultivate their own and not have to worry about a seller, as long as they can get some seeds. The main thing that's stopping them? Yup, you guessed it, the very same insanely strict drug laws you're supporting.

In case you haven't already guessed, I am a recreational drug user. I consider myself a very responsible one, and I assure you there are many more like me. In fact, I personally believe the number will increase drastically if drug laws are relaxed and sensible drug use is no longer a taboo topic. While I don't insist that you be comfortable around drug users -- you are welcome to feel any way that you like -- I wonder... is personal discomfort a good enough reason to make an oftentimes innocuous habit punishable by lengthy jail terms? How would you feel if that principle were applied to things that you do that other people find uncomfortable?
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From:baxil
Date:June 17th, 2005 01:28 am (UTC)
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> it could be argued that heavy users of marijuana would be a little more liberal, on average, than those who do not

This is what I was trying to get at, actually. Is there something about marijuana that makes it, specifically, a drug more correlated with users holding liberal political views? Or is this the case to some extent with all drugs?

(There are at least some drugs whose usage patterns look very different, incidentally. Methamphetamine, if I remember correctly, has a deserved reputation as a rural drug; it's much more of a problem across the American heartland than marijuana is, and thus may track toward "conservative" geographical regions in much the same way I was suggesting here.)

(Also, queenofstripes beat me to the response on the "drug use supports crime" statement. It isn't nearly so much a hot button with me as with some, but I absolutely don't understand the logic of it. I'm open to there being arguments for the continued illegalization of drugs, marijuana or otherwise, but I don't feel that one makes sense.)
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From:ssthisto
Date:June 17th, 2005 04:49 am (UTC)
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I wonder... if we say it this way:

"Having children, however, indirectly supports organised crime, and it certainly would make me very uncomfortable being around people with children - hence affecting me."

Having children, like using currently-illegal substances, is a personal choice first and foremost. It may actually effect others - quite often in a negative fashion. But nobody (other than me!) is suggesting that we ought to make laws more stringent on the production of new editions of H. sapiens.

To be honest, I've never heard that the Netherlands have a problem with organised crime, and they've legalised marijuana at the least - possibly other substances, but I don't know. I've only been in an airport in Amsterdam.
From:tropism
Date:June 17th, 2005 08:32 am (UTC)
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On a personal note, I consider myself to be liberal, but in no way would I support any relaxation of drug laws. In general, I would go by the ideal of all actions being permissable if they do not harm anyone; drug usage, however, indirectly supports organised crime, and it would certainly make me very uncomfortable being around people using drugs - hence affecting me.

Actually, the prohibition against drug use supports organised crime. As Prohibition gave rise to the mobs, the prohibition against drugs gave rise to the cartels, gangs, and other assorted groups of bastards.

Anyway. This is why you support your local grower. ;)
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From:thefirethorn
Date:June 17th, 2005 02:34 am (UTC)
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I'm surprised Oklahoma isn't bright red ..... since it grows like a weed here. It used to be planted liberally by farmers along ditches to prevent erosion......thus the term "ditchweed." Hell, there's some growing wild on my uncle's farm, much to his frustration, since it brings unwanted trespassers.......

Of course, around here, alcohol and meth are the drugs of choice.....
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From:dogemperor
Date:June 17th, 2005 03:34 am (UTC)
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Actually, I'm also surprised *KENTUCKY* isn't practically *infrared* in this map. (Kentucky is not only the #1 producer, nationwide, of marijuana...but also it has been estimated that were marijuana ever legalised it *would* be Kentucky's #1 cash crop; as it is, it *still* is the leading cash crop even with its illicit status.)

It is actually quite well known that most of the bootleggers who once ran stills have gone into selling and growing of marijuana, including planting in the Daniel Boone National Forest (there are parts you do *not* go into, not unless you want to be *shot*; as it is, there's also quite a bit of it growing wild, too). One would honestly expect the eastern part of the state to be red...

It has been so bad that, until a very few years ago, KY had the strictest law in the *nation* regarding cannabis or anything relating to it (including some of the strictest laws in the US re possession of such things as hash pipes and bongs--yes, it is a pain to find a hookah in KY because for the longest time they were *illegal*). KY's law ended up being overturned because it was overly broad (the law applied to *ALL* cannabis strains, including commercial hemp--meaning hemp cloth, hemp clothes and hempseed oil were *all* legally considered marijuana, and you could technically be busted for possession of pot for having *hemp rope*), but that gives you an extent on how much it was (and is) being grown in the state.

(As it is, the same bootleggers have also gotten into oxycontin sales and, as of late, meth. Meth is starting to be a Bad Problem, and "hillbilly heroin" has been for some time--KY has special restrictions in place in most of the eastern parts of the state re oxycontin prescriptions, and they are considering a law that to even purchase Sudafed you have to go to a pharmacist and sign a purchaser's log--as it is, you are restricted to 2 packets of Sudafed a purchase, because people buy it as an ingredient in meth.)

The *really* ironic thing is that most of the pot (and "hillbilly heroin" and meth) trafficking and production is in the dry counties (where you CANNOT legally buy or possess any form of alcohol--so the same folks growing the weed and selling oxycontin and making homebrew meth are *also* the same lovely folks who will sell you a 6-pack of Bud for $20 because they are the only source for it in the area...). And yes, for the record, they do make moonshine on occasion as well (and yes, people have to take as much care with moonshine as, say, other illicit substances...for starters, you want to make *good and damned sure* they aren't spiking their "shine" with antifreeze or windshield wiper fluid or using a damned car radiator to distill through, lest one end up with lead poisoning or polyethylene glycol or methanol poisoning)

Then again, re bootlegging (at least for alcohol), I have no room to talk as I'm from a proud lineage of 'shine-makers and rumrunners on both sides *laughs* (At least one branch of which does actually make stuff legitimately now; I'm distantly related to the folks who owned the Jim Beam distillery until a few years back (and still pretty much operate it) :3)
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From:kevynjacobs
Date:June 17th, 2005 01:34 pm (UTC)

Kentucky: The InfraREDgrass state!

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I had the same reaction to Kentucky's colour on the map as well. Having spent a good part of my life in the Commonwealth of Kentucky (I graduated from high school there, and my mother still lives there), Kentucky was where I first encountered and used marijuana as a teenager. I really was surprised to see that the only speck of pink in the state on the map is the area around Louisville.
Kentucky is, of course, a tobacco-growing state, and the climate for tobacco growing is also pretty good for the cultivation of cannabis. Weed is pretty widespread in KY in my experience, and given that many KY counties are "dry" (no alcohol), I'd expect the state to be "pinker" ... kind of like Western North Carolina is pinker on the map - NC also being a big tobacco-growing area.
In fact, looking at the tobacco-growing region of the South - KY, Tennessee, North Carolina, Northern South Carolina, Northern Georgia, West Virginia - it's interesting to see only one place in that region "in the pink" - Western NC. I wonder what that is all about....
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From:thoughtsdriftby
Date:June 17th, 2005 04:51 pm (UTC)
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perhaps indicating those willing to answer questionnaires accurately
seemingly cocaine congressional/presidential drug of choice, those above the law
illegal activities among drug/tobacco companies also notable
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From:roaminrob
Date:June 17th, 2005 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Given the Republican party's current ability to keep its flock in lock-and-step with current core ideals -- like the war on drugs -- I don't find it very surprising that densely Republican areas have less marijuana use than more densely liberal areas.

Also, the use of marijuana has for a long time had counter-culture elements, which in turn will tend to support more liberal views.

To put it another way: if you're dedicated to using an illegal narcotic, would you vote for the guy that wants to keep it illegal (and work to enforce the law), or would you vote for the guy that doesn't have a problem with legalizing it?
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