While there has been much analysis of how policymakers shape criminal justice policy in the United States, the role of voters in legitimating such policy has been largely overlooked. This is important because of the growing use of ballot measures by states to determine criminal justice policy, such as the legal status of medical cannabis. What are the collective narratives that voters draw upon to legitimate their vote choices on these measures and how does their usage vary? Patterns of individual-level legitimation that use collective narratives matter because they provide evidence of actors’ internalization of such narratives, which suggests the presence and activation of corresponding automatic processes that have been linked to judgment and decision-making. For this study I analyzed respondent legitimations of vote choice on a 2010 ballot measure that sought to legalize medicinal cannabis for a case set of 91 white male voters. Surprisingly, I found the use of a liberal political narrative that spanned party lines for those who voted to approve the measure. Furthermore, I found evidence of a neoliberal narrative of individual responsibility for patient care that reaffirms scholarship on the intersection of neoliberalism and consumerism in healthcare.
Reference: Vila-Henninger, Luis, “The “Medicinal Cannabis Question”: How Actors Legitimate Vote Choice on Medical Marijuana Policy”, The Sociological Quarterly, n° 59, issue 2, 2018, pp. 180-203.