Meet the marijuana moms

Are conservative mothers the new face of the legalization movement?


Judy Berman
October 21, 2009 6:22PM (UTC)

Who do you imagine spoke at September's 38th Annual NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) conference in San Francisco? Perhaps some comedians? Some aging hippie drug-policy wonks? A "High Times" staffer or two? Well, yes. All of those people took their turn at the mic. But so did Jessica Corry, who describes herself as a "Republican mom." According to The Washington Post's Kathleen Parker, Corry stepped up to the podium "wearing an American flag lapel pin, a triple strand of pearls and a gold marijuana leaf pin."

That's right: This is a lady who wants to legalize it. The wife of a lawyer who works with medical marijuana users, Corry doesn't just support our government's recent commitment to stop prosecuting medical marijuana patients and suppliers. This mom sees her crusade for full legalization as a way of "protecting her children should they decide to try marijuana someday." As Parker notes, "There's nothing like imagining one's own children as 'criminals' to put irrational laws in perspective." Although she's now a non-toker, Corry admits to having tried the drug in the past. In the same article, for the Colorado Daily, she aligns herself with another pro-legalization voice on the right, Ron Paul, and makes a conservative argument for reform:

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If we believe that smaller government is better government, we must trust people to choose what to put into their bodies. If we support legalized access to alcohol, cigarettes, and 700-calorie cheeseburgers, we should legalize marijuana -- a far less harmful substance.

Parker adds that "when jobs and cash are in short supply, legalizing marijuana would seem both prudent and profitable." Reading the column, I had to keep pinching myself to believe that I wasn't dreaming, and this argument, which I totally agree with, was coming from a mainstream conservative pundit.

The real crux of Parker's article, another idea she picks up from Corry, is the prediction that it will be women who lead the charge for legalization. It was the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, both point out, who in 1929 spearheaded the movement to get rid of the ban on alcohol. (Thanks, ladies!) Parker also cites a  Marie Claire article on "Stiletto Stoners," high-achieving women who smoke weed, and the recent revelation that Miss New Jersey 2006 uses medical marijuana to calm her asthma. I would add the example of Marie Myung-Ok Lee, a mother who wrote in Double X about feeding her autistic nine-year-old son pot (in cookie form).

But, honestly, Parker and Corry don't entirely sell me on the idea that marijuana is becoming a women's issue. Sure, the connections between responsible parenting and attitudes toward criminalization of the drugs -- in both its recreational and medical capacities -- are growing clearer. Yet, for me, the "toking point" Parker is talking about doesn't seem particularly gender-based. That a self-described "Republican mom" advocates legalization is, more than anything, a sign that the issue is gaining mainstream support. Across the political spectrum, NORML is finally becoming more, well, normal. 


Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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