…it seems to me that legalization arguments will never gain much traction if advocates for it are constantly having to mention how they are not like the drug’s stereotypical users or regard the drug’s use as some grievous personal failing. Instead of coming across as a stronger argument, the standard “I’m in favor of legalization, and I’m the farthest thing in the world from a pot smoker!” argument ends up making the argument for legalization less compelling. This is because this kind of argument unintentionally reproduces the stigma against the drug and effectively endorses one of the key claims that supporters of criminalization make. While it is true that there are a great many practical and principled reasons why Americans of all stripes should oppose continued criminalization, for legalization to take hold as something more than a marginal issue that has the sympathies of more than relatively marginal political forces there would need to be a much larger constituency that regards criminalization as an intolerable imposition on one of their preferences.
A problem with this argument is that there really are plenty of us who do not smoke marijuana but who support legalization. This is largely for libertarian reasons of allowing others to make their own choices, even if different from the choices I have made. Nobody argues that all of us who support legalization of gay marriage must be gay. Similarly there is no reason that supporters of legalization of marijuana must be marijuana users.
There are also pragmatic reasons for opposing the drug war such as the increased violence it leads to and increased law enforcement costs. These are also reasons which those of us who don’t use marijuana could see as appealing reasons to support legalization.
I do concede that Larison does have a point. I’ve never felt compelled to preface a post supporting legalization of marijuana with the fact that I do not smoke marijuana (only mentioning it here as it is relevant to the discussion). Showing a need to stress this could be taken as stigmatization.