MAYBE THE TOBACKY isn’t so wacky after all. A number of 2009 polls have reflected a major shift in public attitudes about marijuana legalization-on average, more than 40 percent of Americans are now in favor, the highest number on record since the Just Say No 1980s. (A roughly equal number remain opposed.)
In March, the normally conservative Economist magazine declared the war on doobies a “disaster,” calling legalization the “least bad option.” A month later, even Time magazine joined in, arguing, “The hypocrisy inherent in the American conversation about stimulants is staggering.” In New York State, the strict Rockefeller drug laws are up for review, and in California, where medical marijuana is fairly easy to obtain, Governor Schwarzenegger has asked that the state study other countries’ policies and debate economic and judicial reform.
This new attention has converged from several angles: The capsized economy has provided a compelling financial argument for elected officials looking to find new taxable products, for one, and a judicial argument has arisen in light of violent Mexican gangs who profit from the U.S. market. And pot legalization-like gay marriage-has gained wider support now that there is evidence from other states and countries that have legalized and found that the world hasn’t, in fact, ended in a blaze of reefer madness. The statistics website FiveThirtyEight estimates that if public support continues to grow at its current pace, legalization could happen within 15 years.
With this in mind, Print contacted four firms: Lust, a graphic design practice in Amsterdam established by Thomas Castro, Jeroen Barendse, and Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen; the New York office of Base, which worked with its branches in Europe; the Oslo firm Strømme Throndsen, winner of the 2009 Award for Design Excellence for its flour packaging; and The Heads of State, a two-man operation run by Jason Kernevich and Dustin Summers in Philadelphia.
The brief was simple: What would a legal pack of marijuana cigarettes look like?