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The Secret to Legal Marijuana? Women

Why women have signed onto marijuana reform -- and why they could be the movement's game-changers.

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Norris said, "I just think women have a better grasp of home economics," or what's really important in a family.

Today's economic climate lends itself to easy parallels with the fight to repeal Prohibition in the 1920s, which was also framed as a family issue. Harry Levine, the sociologist, reminded me of Pauline Sabin, a high-society Chicago feminist who organized women in the fight to repeal the 18th Amendment. 

"Sabin said that because of the violence, the corruption, the bootleggers, and all the resulting lost tax revenue, that alcohol undermined the home and therefore women should speak out for themselves and children," Levine said.

Many point to the moment when women joined the fight against Prohibition as the tipping point for the ultimate success of the movement.

Women as a new force

The women in the marijuana reform movement have different reasons for trumpeting policy change. Some see cannabis as a medicinal wonder drug, others see tangible -- and sensible -- socio-economic benefits to taxing and regulating it.

Trends indicate that as more states legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes, more people will discover first-hand that legalization of marijuana does not equate with anarchy and instead with more effective control of a substance so readily available to Americans -- and American kids -- across the country.

And as Californians may next year, Americans will soon be exposed to the choice between regulating marijuana for adult use or continuing a failed drug war that incarcerates 850,000 people a year -- tearing apart families, ruining futures, and siphoning from public funds that might otherwise benefit the next generation. All this for a relatively mild psychotropic that at least a third of us has tried.

As the recession continues to unravel communities across the country, the economic incentive to end this drug war will affect the opinions of many who might never otherwise have considered legalization. The time may very well be now.

Similar to the prohibition of alcohol in the early twentieth century, what we have today is a federal policy that is at odds with public opinion. It is a policy without a plurality of citizen supporters.

And many women are at the vanguard of the movement that recognizes this and is fighting for change.

Daniela Perdomo is a contributing writer & editor at AlterNet. You can follow her on Twitter @danielaperdomo.