She may have lost the presidential election to the star-of-our-current-surreality Donald J. Trump—just who to blame for that one remains to be seen, but would appear to depend on where you’re sitting— but as her storied political career comes to a close with one of the most stunning upsets in American history, it appears we can thank Hillary Clinton for legalizing marijuana.
And in a twist that’s sure to make this year’s Thanksgiving table conversations with your Trump-supporting relatives even more pleasant, a share of the victory is also due to Millennials.
Last week, California voters handily approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Passage was never seriously in doubt, after polls revealed 60 percent support for legalization in general and the measure in particular. And though the final result—56.2 percent for to 43.8 percent opposed, a margin of 1.2 million votes—was closer than the polls predicted (say, that sounds familiar), California still delivered the widest margin of victory for adult-use cannabis to date.
With 59 percent of Trump supporters opposing legalization, it was up to Democratic-leaning voters and the youth to make up the difference. And they did: 68 percent of Clinton supporters and 66 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 voted in favor of legalization, according to a University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times voter survey.
Which was all part of the plan from the start. Recall that California’s last shot at legalization came during the 2010 midterms and suffered a five-point defeat. It certainly didn’t help that that effort, Prop. 19, had none of the financial and political support that Prop. 64 enjoyed, but it’s also no coincidence that the legalization dominoes started falling with Washington and Colorado in 2012, with Barack Obama’s reelection on the table.
Though Hillary did pledge to reschedule cannabis to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act should she be elected, neither she nor Trump did all that much to court the weed vote. Trump told a national police chiefs’ group that he’d leave the states alone—then again, he said all kinds of things—meaning, at least on marijuana, their stances were more similar than not.
Still, if Hillary voters had stayed home, California legalization would likely have lost. That would have been a major defeat for drug policy reform with worldwide reverberations, a setback even bigger — at least in proportion—than Trump’s victory.
It also bears mentioning that only 49 percent of older Gen-Xers and the youngest baby boomers, in the 49- to 64-years-old cohort, supported Prop. 64. In yet another sign that polls aren’t everything, that final result contradicted polling from the Public Policy Institute of California, which found 52 percent of voters 55 and over were OK with legalization.
Was the polling wrong? Did something change their minds? Either way, this means that if everything were up to them, weed would be illegal and Trump would be in the White House.
If you’re glad that’s not the case, find a Millennial with a Hillary button and deliver your thanks today.