[Editor's note: The July 2009 issue of Socionomics has an interesting essay and series of graphs that seeks to look 5-10 years into future regarding the decidedly declining public, political and business support for cannabis prohibition. Socionomics is a subscription based publication, and the graph and first 500 words of the essay are re-printed with permission.]
The Coming Collapse of a Modern Prohibition
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History shows that mood governs society’s tolerance for recreational drugs. A rising social mood produces prohibition of substances such as alcohol and marijuana; a falling mood produces tolerance and relaxed regulation. In the case of alcohol, the path from prohibition to decriminalization became littered with corruption and violence as the government waged a failed war on traffickers. Eventually, as mood continued to sour, the government finally capitulated to public cries for decriminalization as a means to end the corruption and bloodshed.
We predict a similar fate for the prohibition of marijuana, if not the entire War on Drugs. The March 1995 Elliott Wave Theorist first forecasted the Drug War’s repeal at the end of the bear market and in 2003, EWT stated that during the decline, “The drug war will turn more violent. Eventually, possession and sale of recreational drugs will be decriminalized.”
The Case of Marijuana
Social mood influences people’s actions and their social judgments. In times of positive mood, people have the resources to enforce their social desires. They can afford to express the black and white moral issues preferred during bull markets, and drug abuse is a favorite target.
During times of negative mood, on the other hand, society’s priorities change. People have other, bigger worries and begin to view recreational drugs as less dangerous, if not innocuous in offering stress relief, pain reduction and the ability to cope with the pressures of negative social mood.
Over the past 100 years, governmental activities have manifested these changing attitudes. During periods of rising mood, policymakers stepped up regulation of cannabis. During periods of falling mood, they eased those same stances.
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As shown in Figure 1, each legislative attempt to restrict marijuana use followed at least three, and in most cases four or five, bull-market years. In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. The law banned casual consumption of the drug and limited its use to specific medical and industrial purposes. Franklin Roosevelt signed the law at the top of a roaring bull market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average having quintupled from its 1932 low. The real crackdown, however, came over a decade later during the massive wave III bull move.
The Boggs Act, which increased drug use penalties fourfold, and the Narcotics Control Act, which increased penalties another eightfold, both came during the most powerful portion of wave 3 of III of the bull market. Then in 1958, after four more years of rising mood, Wisconsin farmers harvested the last legal crop of U.S.-grown hemp. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush’s famous “War on Drugs” speech came on the heels of seven years of net progress in the stock market. In 1999, a year before the top of the Grand Supercycle bull market, the DEA banned the importation of hemp products that contained even a trace of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient.
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