I love this little statistic from the “San Francisco Chronicle” highlighted by Pete Guither on DrugWarRant:
The “Tax Cannabis in 2010″ Facebook page as of Thursday afternoon had 101,386 fans (i.e., people who “like” the page).
The “Public Safety First–Against the Legalization of Marijuana in CA” Facebook page had six fans.
This is a strong manifestation of the huge age divide on the issue. Young people, who are the top users of websites like Facebook, as an age group overwhelmingly support legalizing and regulating cannabis. The heaviest opposition comes from senior citizens, who tend to be far less tech savvy.
This also shows that young people don’t just support legalization in a general way, when pressed to answer a poll question, but are engaged on the topic. They actively support legalization and want their friends on Facebook to know that.
The big question for November is whether this online engagement will translate into large youth turnout numbers (discounting the number of Facebook supporters who are under 18 and can’t vote). Young people are irregular voters who don’t tend to participate in midterm elections. But if young people turn out in 2010 to vote for marijuana legalization in the same or even greater numbers than they did in the 2008 general election, they could easily push the ballot initiative over the top. Of course, as we saw with the Ron Paul presidential primary campaign in 2008, strong online support does not always translate to huge numbers of actual votes.
I suspect parsing the youth turnout numbers in California will be a big topic among political analysts the day after the November election.