Weed’s Increasingly Legal. Trad-Life Guys Are Fighting Back

A majority of states have already legalized cannabis to some degree, and only some 10 percent of Americans believe it should remain prohibited in every form. Yet some Republicans have continued to oppose a decades-long effort to remove the drug from the federal list of Schedule I drugs — those considered to have “a high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” And lately, we’ve started to see exactly which voters support this intransigence: religious “trad life” influencers.

Last August, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended the Drug Enforcement Administration reschedule cannabis. The DEA is currently reviewing this proposal. Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, both Replublicans, led a letter urging the DEA not to reclassify marijuana, claiming in part that licensed growing operations were connected to “serious crimes.” In January, Senate Democrats renewed the call for the Biden administration to instead lift the federal ban, a move that could benefit the president’s chances of reelection in 2024.

Amid this debate, conservative commentators with personal brands focused on “traditional” lifestyles — who tend to extol Christian faith, white European heritage, and families defined by outdated gender roles — have taken to propagandizing against the devil’s lettuce.

On Sunday, Justin Murphy, a self-described trad Catholic and author of a newsletter about philosophical texts, complained on X/Twitter that he had slept for 13 hours after drinking two cans of sparkling water infused with hemp and adaptogens. “Cannabis is a silent epidemic wreaking havoc on the American family,” he wrote, saying that the beverages had caused him to sleep through church the following day. “How is this legal, with such innocent packaging?” he asked.

Murphy’s post was widely mocked, in part because the water he drank had no THC — the psychoactive compound in cannabis — and a low dose of CBD, which is non-psychoactive and generally used to control anxiety or chronic pain. Recess, the drink brand, advertises the beverage as only containing natural ingredients that “help the body and mind maintain calm and balance.” After he went viral, Murphy grumbled that he was “done giving companies free publicity.” Yet he is not alone in his concern at the normalization of marijuana-derived consumer products.

Trad meme accounts have criticized weed as “cringe,” pushing the narrative that the drug is both highly addictive and detrimental to one’s quality of life. A “Christian Nationalist” X account with an avatar of Pepe the Frog as a medieval crusader even went to far as to speculate that “a large portion of normies who would have been somewhat right wing became liberals simply because of how weed changed their brain.” And a verified feed purporting to share the history of “Ancient Masculinity” took up the religious argument against it: “God’s word has said that alcohol was given as a blessing from His hand,” they wrote. “Marijuana, however, is something used by men to alter the state of their mind and numb them to reality, and it should be avoided.”

The hostility to cannabis extends to adjacent figures on the far right. Andrew Tate, an accused sex trafficker known for his misogynist views and obsession with primal masculinity, has called the drug “gay.” and the vice of “lazy losers.” Transphobic podcaster and Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh, given to warning that anything and anyone is part of “the war on the nuclear family,” has joined a chorus of conservatives irate about smelling weed on city streets. “What exactly are supposed to be the benefits of marijuana legalization again?” he fumed last year.

One of the strangest anti-weed campaigns in the right-wing media ecosystem comes courtesy of Scott Greer, a Daily Caller alum calling for conservatives to take his “Greerhead Pledge,” which includes promises to abstain from marijuana as well as rap music and Marvel movies. (Greer has also toyed with the idea of forbidding adherents from watching NFL games.) The purported benefits of such a lifestyle remain somewhat abstract, though that hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk from endorsing the oath.

It seems that as cannabis becomes more mainstream and corporatized, it nonetheless retains something of the liberal associations that have long made it anathema to the conservative movement. Extremist groups like the Proud Boys allegedly lean toward alcohol and cocaine, while one MAGA rioter killed during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection was determined to have died of an amphetamine overdose. Last month, the Department of Defense released a report which described Trump‘s White House as awash in loosely distributed prescription dugs.

Despite hopeful speculation of late, it’s still unclear whether the DEA will modify the federal status of weed anytime soon. But if they do, Republicans would wage war on the plant at their own peril. Again, it’s already widely available, the basis of an industry that generates billions in state tax revenue, and overwhelmingly popular. All the momentum right now favors decriminalization, and a tiny minority pushing back is likely to be steamrolled.

On the other hand, trad influencers pride themselves on their rejection of the contemporary status quo, and with marijuana firmly in the mainstream, it’s a target they can’t resist. A rollback of the freedom to toke up in America isn’t out of the question, it’s just that prohibition activists have their work cut out for them. Outside this insular online community, the cause may read more as “Old Man Yells at Cloud” — the cloud being a haze of pot smoke.


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