Colbert Brilliantly Connects Marijuana Legalization to Marriage Equality

The law is trailing far behind public opinion in both issues.

A young woman lights a marijuana joint in May 2012.

On the heels of last week’s historic Pew poll finding that a majority of Americans now support legally regulating marijuana, "The Colbert Report" did a rousing and hilarious segment on the parallels between the momentum for marijuana legalization and marriage equality.  

Stephen Colbert isn’t the only one making this connection. New York Times columnist Charles Blow recently described in detail the rapidly shifting political landscape for marijuana legalization and marriage equality, which have both seen consistent increases in support among all age groups, especially young people, over the last decade. More than 65% of people under 30 now support both.

And it’s not just the American public and media seeing the light on the urgency of ending the drug war and addressing mass incarceration. Earlier this week, hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons and Dr. Boyce Watkins pulled together a superstar-studded coalition of 175 celebrities and thought leaders – such as Richard Branson, Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jon Hamm and Will Smith – to join the NAACP, the Drug Policy Alliance and other national advocacy organizations in an open letter to President Obama urging him to make criminal justice reform a priority in his second term.

While President Obama and the Democratic establishment have all come out in support of marriage equality over the past few years, most mainstream politicians are still behind the curve on drug policy reform. Stoner jokes aside, this is no laughing matter – 750,000 people are still getting arrested every year for marijuana, and more than half a million Americans will sleep in a cage tonight for nothing more than a nonviolent drug offense.

In just the last decade, marijuana legalization and drug policy reform have moved from the fringes to the mainstream. It’s time for our elected leaders to take their heads out of the sand and realize that embracing reform is a win-win for both their careers and for America’s children, families and communities.

Tony Newman is communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Jag Davies is director of communications strategy for the Drug Policy Alliance.