The worst recession since the Great Depression has been a boon to cannabis legalization, says Euan Wilson, a researcher at the Socionomics Institute - A Gainesville, GA think tank, and will likely end up making the drug legal.
In an interview with Bloomberg’s Devin Leonard, Wilson notes that he studies the social mood and its influence over the economy. “When a society’s mood is trending positively, people tend to buy stocks, expand businesses, act peacefully, and want happier entertainment. In a negative-mood trend, people tend to sell stocks, shrink their businesses, act belligerently, and go for more somber entertainment. We have found that social mood also regulates society’s tolerance of recreational drugs.”
During positive social moods, “people think they can fix society. One way to do that, they believe, is to remove perceived social ills such as recreational drug use. Conversely, in times of negatively trending social mood, people are less optimistic about the future and their ability to improve it. They start questioning the high financial, social, human, and political costs of prohibition. Their patience wanes. Their motivation fades. They give up on prohibition.”
Wilson notes that the Great Depression ended alcohol prohibiton. And since the Great Recession support for ending cannabis prohibition has surged. Two states legalized pot and the feds didn’t attack them.
Wilson is confident cannabis will be legalized soon, because even though the stock market is at an all-time high, in real terms the S&P has been in a bear market since 2000. The economic recovery is also the most sluggish on record, Wilson notes. Everyone hating Congress, and the president’s low approval also indicate a sour social mood. And if the economy suddenly recovers and the national mood improves?
“Society would regain the energy and the will to prosecute the drug war. But with stock market optimism currently historically high by many measures, a new all-time high in real terms seems remote. So we aren’t expecting to be surprised on this front.”