On Sunday night, Miley Cyrus reportedly smoked weed onstage at the MTV European Music Awards in Amsterdam. The reaction, of course, was immediate, and the information ricochet through the world of entertainment and celebrity gossip like the media gold it is: Cyrus smokes weed, onstage, in Amsterdam — it’s too ripe a story not to pick (here we are, of course).
But we would be missing the point entirely if we only treated the story superficially. The story as gossip fodder is outside the scope of this article, but the story as fodder for the conversation surrounding marijuana is not. With this story in particular it seems easy to get distracted by what is superficial and miss this important consideration: what Cyrus did was not really that deviant.
Here is some data that suggests why: 58 percent of all Americans favor legalizing Marijuana, with 67 percent of those aged 18 to 29 supporting legalization (Cyrus will just be old enough to drink alcohol legally at the end of November) and 38 percent of all Americans have reported trying the drug. Nearly 7 percent of the U.S. population reports that they smoke marijuana with some frequency, while 14 percent of those aged 18 to 29 report smoking with some frequency.
In September, Cyrus told Rolling Stone that she thought “weed is the best drug on earth.” At that, she might be right. Prohibition taught society that a drug — even one with enormous negative impacts such as alcohol — are critical to a functioning society. Recreational use of marijuana certainly comes with consequences, but a growing number of people have evaluated the data and determined that if they’re going to choose a poison, it may as well be marijuana. You know, the one with fewer health detriments (demonstrable medicinal benefits aside) and lower potential for abuse.
The argument is more than anecdotal: this is a normal way of thinking. A long-standing stigma against marijuana simply doesn’t exist among most of the millennial generation — and, in fact, there is a lot of disinformation in the culture that pro-marijuana advocates are working vigorously against.