Magazine article World Affairs

"Grass" Roots in Texas: A Multiple Streams Approach to Understanding the Marijuana Movement's Policy Impact

Magazine article World Affairs

"Grass" Roots in Texas: A Multiple Streams Approach to Understanding the Marijuana Movement's Policy Impact

Article excerpt

Several scholars have pointed to a gap between the social movement and policy literatures, and argue that the failure of each field to incorporate the other creates a missing link in our understanding of how social movements and policy shape each other. This study provides an opportunity to make these links by applying John Kingdon's multiple streams framework of agenda setting to the marijuana movement in Texas. Texas, an unlikely candidate for marijuana reform, was the site of sustained efforts to change marijuana laws during the 2015 legislative session. This research offers evidence about the ways in which social movements influence the policy process, and how the policy process responds to activist efforts. We find that despite well-organized movement efforts, political influence was limited. We argue that the reform movement's inability to control activist participation presents additional challenges in a nonballot initiative state such as Texas.

Keywords: Social Movements and Public Policy, Marijuana Reform, Cannabis Laws, Grass, Pot, Medical Marijuana, Policy Impact, Marijuana Activism, Multiple Streams Framework, Agenda Setting, United States, Texas, War on Drugs.

Muchos academicos han senalado la existencia de una brecha entre el movimiento social y las literaturas de politicas, y argumentan que el fracaso de cada campo para incorporar el enfoque del otro ha creado un eslabon perdido en nuestra comprensieon de como los movimientos sociales y la politica se moldean el uno al otro. Este estudio provee una oportunidad para identificar estos vinculos aplicando el marco de corrientes multiples de John Kingdon en el establecimiento de la agenda al movimiento de la marijuana en Texas. Texas, un candidato poco probable para la reforma de la marihuana, fue el sitio de esfuerzos sostenidos para cambiar las leyes de marihuana durante la sesion legislativa de 2015. Esta investigacion ofrece evidencia sobre las formas en que los movimientos sociales influyeron en el proceso de politicas y como el proceso de politicas responde a los esfuerzos de los activistas. Se encuentra que a pesar de una buena organizacion del movimiento, la influencia politica fue limitada. Argumentamos que la incapacidad del movimiento reformista de controlar la participacion activista presenta desafios adicionales en un estado de iniciativas no-electorales como Texas.

Palabras clave: Movimientos Sociales y Politicas Publicas, Reforma de la Marihuana, Leyes del Cannabis, Hierba, Marihuana medicinal, Impacto de Politicas, Activismo de Marihuana, Marco de Corrientes Multiples, Establecimiento de Agenda, Estados Unidos, Texas, Guerra contra las drogas.

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Organized social movements are an integral part of a democratic society that gives citizens the opportunity to mobilize and express demands to elected representatives. Students of social movements and public policy recognize that social movements can influence policy, but the conditions under which such influence can occur have been debated (Amenta et al. 2010; Andrews and Edwards 2004; Rochon and Mazmanian 1993). Several scholars have pointed to a gap between the social movement and policy literatures, and argue that the failure of each field to incorporate the other creates a missing link in our understanding of how social movements and policy shape each other (Amenta 2014; Gornick and Meyer 1998; Meyer 2003). Recognizing this, a number of researchers have examined the complex and fluid relationships between social movements and public policies (Ingram and Ingram 2005; see also Jenness et al. 2005), and several studies now have used theories of the policy process to understand social movement influence (Baumgartner and Mahoney 2005; Mamudu et al. 2014).

This study builds on efforts to synthesize the study of social movements and public policy by examining the movement for marijuana reform in Texas through the lens of Kingdon's multiple streams theory of public

policy. …

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