When 70 Percent Support Marijuana Legalization, Starbucks Gets The Message

By Steve Elliott

A remarkable scenario played out in the American media recently, and beyond the import of the story itself is the quantum shift in public perception that it illustrates.

A pro-cannabis group based in Colorado called for a nationwide boycott of coffee giant Starbucks after activists spotted a Starbucks logo on the website of a virulently extremist anti-drug organization. After intense negative publicity ensued, Starbucks actually felt moved to issue a denial.

Once Mason Tvert of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recation (SAFER) called for the boycott, it took only a couple days until Starbucks denied funding the Colorado Drug Investigators Association (CDIA). Starbucks further said they officially took no position on the marijuana issue, one way or the other.

That doesn’t sound so remarkable until you realize that the very nonchalance, the need to be noncommital, is emblematic of the change, the bedrock reality in the politics of marijuana that has already occurred under our feet.

For those of us who can remember the zeitgeist of two or three decades ago — when anything anti-marijuana could expect a warm corporate embrace while anything pro-pot was anathema to any self-respecting company – this is an exhilarating change of atmosphere.

What has happened is that we are now so near the tipping point where the majority will favor legalizing marijuana, that change has begun to acquire a sweet whiff of inevitability.

In fact, some recent polls have already indicated majority support for legalization. Even larger majorities – in the 70 to 80 percent range nationwide – favor the legalization of marijuana for medical use.

Granted, one reason the Starbucks drama played out the way it did is undoubtedly the clumsiness of the anti-marijuana messengers involved.

The CDIA website, which was taken off the net just about an hour before Tvert’s news conference, was pretty ugly. It featured the slogan “Death On Drugs” and a Grim Reaper rappelling from a helicopter.

The problem was it also featured several corporate logos, including the familiar Starbucks symbol — apparently being used without corporate permission.

Sure, it’s pretty sad for an organization to claim corporate sponsorship where none exists. But the fact that now it’s anti-marijuana organizations doing this – and being brushed away by the corporations themselves – is part of the unfolding drama of marijuana’s ascendancy in public perception.



This is the sixth article in a new daily series on News Junkie Post known as the Progressive Unity Project. Each day, there will be a new article published from the perspective of the environment, labor, LGBT, immigration, science, legalization, or secularity. About the weekly contributor on LegalizationSaturday:


Legalization Saturday
Steve Elliott, a journalist since the 1980s, is based near Seattle, Washington.

He worked for newspapers in Alabama and Mississippi before moving to the West Coast in 1999. While living in the Los Angeles area, Elliott edited two trade magazines, Business Fleet and F&I Management and Technology, until 2004.

Steve Elliott has written extensively for the S.F. Weekly, Eyes On Obama, and OpEd News. He now edits the Village Voice Media cannabis site, Toke of the Town. Steve online:   Twitter Digg

Editor’s Note: Please follow The News Junkie Post on Twitter.


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17 Responses to When 70 Percent Support Marijuana Legalization, Starbucks Gets The Message

  1. Pingback:

    +2 Vote -1 Vote +1uberVU - social comments

  2. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1jonny
    February 6, 2010 at 8:24 am

    this is fantastic news. I was taking part in the Starbucks boycott myself and I’m pleased I’ll be able to go to Starbucks again without feeling guilty for supporting their anti-marijuana nonsense.

    to me the fact that marijuana should be legalized is self evident. there is no logical argument that can be made against it.

  3. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1AP
    February 6, 2010 at 11:02 am

    The sweet whiff of inevitability, indeed.

    When Starbucks sees it as smarter to be neutral than to be pro-drug-war, things are definitely changing. And yet it is only the victory of common sense over propaganda and hysteria that we expect.

    Anyone with even the most basic powers of observation can see that cannabis users (meaning those who do not use other more dangerous drugs, including excessive EtOH) are not violent or antisocial at all and are, in fact, kind, normal people. This includes folks like Paul McCartney, Carl Sagan, Oliver Stone, and Stephen King.

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    +1 Vote -1 Vote +1=== popurls.com === popular today

  5. -17 Vote -1 Vote +1Barcelona
    February 7, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Well it might be true that 70% of the people approve the use of medical marijuana but I think that about only 10% do smoke it. Basically starbucks is with the other 90 % of the population.

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1bakeasaurus
      February 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      You must be in denial if you think only 10% of the population smokes marijuana. Do you live in a bubble? Marijuana is not only consumed by those little gang bangers, a large population of corporate America likes to get high. There is a huge population of people that do not abuse pot and consume as a recreational activity. Instead of a glass of wine on the weekend they might smoke a joke. No headache or hangover.

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Michael Price
      February 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm

      By that logic since only 5% of people play paper and pencil RPGs that means 95% want them illegal. In fact of course wasn’t ever with the “90%” who don’t smoke they weren’t with anyone, liars just said they were. Starbucks is with those who mind their own business.

    • Vote -1 Vote +1necropsychronautron
      February 15, 2010 at 12:42 am

      Okay, here’s some real statistics for you:
      http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k8NSDUH/2k8results.cfm#Ch2
      Congratulations on being semi close on that 10 percent guess. However this is a survey. I highly doubt most people who are private about it (there are many due to it being ILLEGAL) are going to admit it, and as far as I now, neither I nor anybody I’ve ever met has been asked this question for this survey.
      At the top of the page, you find this tidbit “This report was prepared by the Office of Applied Studies (OAS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration”
      Meaning this percent likely only represents the number of people arrested and referred to treatment programs, also including those who refer themselves to treatment programs.

      Now explain how is it that only 10% smoking it translates into 90% support it’s criminalization to possess?

      Also note further down the page that between 60-70% of all Americans are current, heavy or binge drinkers.
      Roughly matches the number of those who support med. marijuana usage. Perhaps that percentage realizes the hypocrisy of alcohols legal status in comparison to marijuana(which is much less debilitating) being illegal.

      Perhaps you could cite some non biased source, like I just did for you, that points to this 90% opposition you claim?
      Or is the effort of a measly 15 mins of internet research only for lazy potheads?

  6. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1bob
    February 7, 2010 at 6:30 am

    “Well it might be true that 70% of the people approve the use of medical marijuana but I think that about only 10% do smoke it. Basically starbucks is with the other 90 % of the population.”

    first off, you’re wrong. secondly, who cares what you “think”? clearly, you’re not very very bright or informed. so keep your moronic thoughts to yourself. and consider the possibility of maybe someday reading a book or something.

  7. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1XBarK Technology Forums
    February 7, 2010 at 7:18 am

    I don’t see the problem Marijuana should be legal. It does not cause any problems the only reason its illegal its because of stupid politicians.

  8. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1_kelly.King
    February 7, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Does Starbucks piss test and discriminate against employees who use marijuana? Because if they do then this whole article is moot. Yeah so the “media landscape” is changing to be pro-legalization; all that means is the national movement is officially at step -2 out of 420 to achieving what America needs.

  9. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Derek
    February 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    It’s really quite sad that people are deemed criminals and their lives destroyed because they choose to smoke flowers, the laws cause more harm than anything. Legalize!!

  10. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1BrzlBoy22
    February 7, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    @_kelly.King Have you ever been inside a starbucks? Not to generalize but the vast majority of coffeeshop employees are either potheads or from the LGTB community. And I say that after having worked in several different ones, namely Caribou Coffee and Starbucks. I definitely don’t mean that as a flame, but no they most definitely do not drug test unless they have a VERY probable reason to do so. And I loved you’re “step -2 out of 420″ comment. :-)

    Coming from a smoker who had to take a break due to a non-related charge, this is wonderful news. Although they may not be NORML’s biggest sponsor yet, it seems like some day it very well may be a possibility. And if Starbucks managed to get licenses and become dispensaries after the inevitable legalization, good lord would life be awesome. Peace and love, guys.

    • Vote -1 Vote +1BrzlBoy22
      February 8, 2010 at 12:02 am

      You’re = your*, sorry grammar nazis. I usually spell-check but typed this in a rush since I’m at work right now.

  11. -11 Vote -1 Vote +1William
    February 9, 2010 at 11:36 am

    So absurd. I hope marijuana is never leagalized. And local governments need to close down all these “clinics” There’s nothing special about weed. For every ‘medical’ benefit of weed, a legal drug can do the same thing much more efficiently. We need to put more money into the DEA and come down hard on all these drug abusers…go move to Amsterdam if you want to get high so bad. ( And mind you, this is coming from a 24 year old who has had quite his share of drug experiences)

    • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1JTT
      February 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

      So because you dont want to use it it should be illegal? In what way is it harmful to society?

    • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1necropsychronautron
      February 14, 2010 at 11:52 pm

      Hah, Amsterdam he says.
      I guess if you seek personal freedom you shouldn’t be looking here?
      Is that inline with your opinions William?
      Or can you explain why there is something wrong with what I choose to and choose not to do on my spare time, in my own home, while being extremely mindful of how it might affect other people?
      And don’t try the whole laziness argument. I’m a web developer, and I study recreationally as much(usually more) as I smoke recreationally.

      P.S If you enjoy even a occasional glass of alcohol, or cigarette, you are a massive hypocrite.

      But do have a nice day. Just be a bit more humble and stop trying to impose your life choices on others.