By Javier Haase
When California legalized recreational marijuana in January, it sparked a national conversation on the future of the drug. Seeking to highlight the relevance of this event, the media quoted the state’s large population – comparable to Canada’s; the potential sales and taxes; the jobs that will be created there; and the size of its economy which, ranking sixth in the world, comes in ahead of France’s and India’s.
Despite California’s impressive numbers, however, economic factors won’t be the state’s critical contribution in moving the legalization debate forward. Ultimately, California’s cultural reach and influence are what will make it a turning point in the battle to legalize marijuana nationwide.
This is where California’s so-called soft-power kicks in. First coined by political scientist Joseph Nye, the term refers to the ability to persuade others to do what one wants “without force or coercion.” And few places can claim as much of this sort of power as California can.
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