We Want Legal Weed Because We’re Depressed, Says Researcher

12.02.13 Andy Cush

It is 2013, and the U.S. is depressed. We’re more politically divided than we’ve ever been, and though the recession is officially over, unemployment is still high. Healthcare.gov still isn’t working, climate change has rendered our weather incredibly hostile, foreign wars claim unimaginable numbers of human lives. Paul Walker is dead, for Christ’s sake.

According to Euan Wilson, a researcher at the think tank Socionomics Institute (that’s social economics) all of this and more is contributing to our country’s newfound craving for legalized herb. You see, according to Wilson, who specializes in the correlation between economics and national mood, there’s a correlation between national negativity and society’s permissiveness towards recreational drugs.

Wilson explains the theory to Businessweek:

In a positive-mood trend, people think they can fix society. One way to do that, they believe, is to remove perceived social ills such as recreational drug use. Conversely, in times of negatively trending social mood, people are less optimistic about the future and their ability to improve it. They start questioning the high financial, social, human, and political costs of prohibition. Their patience wanes. Their motivation fades. They give up on prohibition.

And what happens in the event of economic recovery? Again, Wilson:

The economy per se doesn’t matter as much as mood. If mood continues to get more positive and the stock market reaches new highs in real terms, legalization would probably encounter more barriers. Society would regain the energy and the will to prosecute the drug war. But with stock market optimism currently historically high by many measures, a new all-time high in real terms seems remote. So we aren’t expecting to be surprised on this front.

There you have it. According to one researcher at least, all we need to ensure nationwide legalization is make sure people stay sad. That shouldn’t be too hard.

(Photo: Nickel Bag of Funk/Flickr)