A socionomic analysis of legal pot
Alan Hall, senior analyst for The Socionomist, explains that positive social mood intensifies regulation of drugs such as alcohol and marijuana, while negative social mood relaxes regulation of such drugs. He describes the role of social mood in public support for Proposition 64, which would allow recreational use of marijuana in California.
[Editor’s note: The text version of this interview is below.]
Dana Weeks: Hi, this is ElliottWaveTV, and I’m Dana Weeks. Today I’m speaking with Alan Hall, senior analyst for The Socionomist. Welcome, Alan.
Polling by the University of California at Berkley shows nearly 2-to-1 support for Proposition 64, which would allow recreational use of marijuana in the state. Can you explain these numbers from a socionomic perspective?
Alan Hall: During the 2007-2009 bear market, marijuana legalization advocates were able to ramp up momentum and infrastructure. They continue to use this to their advantage. This year, California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada will hold referendums on legalizing recreational marijuana, which is already legal in four states: Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon.
Dana: In the past, there even was opposition to medical marijuana. What’s happening on that front?
Alan: The opposition has been crumbling. In November, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas will hold referendums on medical marijuana, which is already legal in 25 states and in the District of Columbia. But the biggest story is California, which is the most populous state and has the world’s sixth-largest economy. The marijuana industry in the United States is worth $7.2 billion and is expected to be worth $20 billion by the year 2020. If recreational pot is legalized in California, that number could be substantially higher.
Dana: How has support for marijuana been manifested in areas other than elections?
Alan: Marijuana stocks are up over 50% just this month! Gallup says 13% of Americans—33 million people—admit to current marijuana use. Last year, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced legislation to remove the federal ban and let each state decide whether to legalize pot. This year, Illinois became the 21st state to decriminalize simple possession. California Democrats became the first major political party in that state to endorse legalization. The Oakland Museum of California opened the nation’s first cannabis exhibit. Celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg are launching their own lines of medical marijuana products, and some of those are aimed at pets, which is a huge consumer market.
Dana: But we’re still seeing some resistance to marijuana legalization. Why the continued opposition?
Alan: U.S. stocks are currently near all-time highs and legalization is hitting some headwinds as a result. In 2015, the state of Ohio rejected legalized marijuana. And, mood has not been negative enough to change federal marijuana. This year, the Drug Enforcement Administration kept marijuana on its list of Schedule 1 drugs, along with LSD, ecstasy and heroin.
Dana: What will have to happen for the marijuana ban to be removed at the federal level?
Alan: That will require a strong negative mood trend. In the July 2009 issue of The Socionomist, Euan Wilson showed a stock chart titled “Ban With the Bull, Chill With the Bear.” The point was that the histories of alcohol legislation and the war on drugs show that positive social mood drives prohibition of drugs such as alcohol and marijuana, and negative mood relaxes regulation. A good example is the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933, in the heart of the Great Depression. Another good example is the current trend toward marijuana legalization.
Dana: Thank you so much, Alan.
Alan: Thank you.