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Poll: 60 Percent Of Americans Say States, Not Feds, Ought To Decide Marijuana Question

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 9, 2014

    Six out of ten voters believe that states, not the federal government, should authorize and enforce marijuana policy, according to national polling data reported this week by the Washington, DC think-tank Third Way.

    When presented with the option, 60 percent of respondents said that state officials ought to possess the authority to “control and decide whether to legalize marijuana.” Only 34 percent of those polled said that the federal government ought to enforce marijuana laws.

    Similarly, a super-majority of voters (67 percent) agreed, “Congress should pass a bill giving states that have legalized marijuana a safe haven from federal marijuana laws, so long as they have a strong regulatory system.”

    Overall, 50 percent of voters said that they support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes while 47 percent opposed the notion. However, among those opposed to legalization, 21 percent endorsed the idea of Congress providing a “safe haven” from federal prohibition in those states that have chosen to legalize the plant’s use and sale.

    “The fact that state legalization of marijuana violates federal law and creates an untenable policy situation was clear – and the voters we polled responded not with ideological proclamations but by supporting a middle-ground, pragmatic policy which would ease that conflict as the legal landscape continues to quickly shift,” representatives for the think-tank stated in a media release. “This means marijuana is not an issue of absolutes for many Americans – rather, it requires a nuanced balancing of values and interests.”

    Nationwide, voter support for cannabis legalization was highest among Democrats (64 percent), Millennials (61 percent), and non-white/Hispanic voters (61 percent). A majority of women voters and self-identified Republicans opposed legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. By contrast, majority support (78 percent) for the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes extended throughout all demographics.

    Among respondents, 54 percent expressed a favorable view of those who used cannabis therapeutically, while only 36 percent said that they possessed a favorable view of social consumers.

    When it came to the issue of how to most effectively influence voters’ opinions on marijuana law reform, authors reported that neither negative nor positive messaging “moved voters substantially in either direction.” Specifically, authors’ reported that many respondents failed to sympathize with the idea that the drug war was overly punitive or that the federal government might once again begin cracking down on state-compliant cannabis consumers and providers.

    Authors concluded, “As opponents lean heavily into values-based arguments regarding teenage marijuana use and highway safety, more research still needs to be done to identify a compelling value for legalizing recreational marijuana – the way that compassion underlies support for medical marijuana.”

    Researchers collected opinion data over the course of several months in two separate waves – first with a late summer focus group and then with an October poll of 856 registered voters, conducted online.

    Full text of the Third Way report is online at here.

    14 Responses to “Poll: 60 Percent Of Americans Say States, Not Feds, Ought To Decide Marijuana Question”

    1. Joanne Sullivan says:

      the Feds need/should to stay out too many politicians to stick their fingers in the kitty and take what doesn’t belong to them… and also big ass big corporations need to stay out of the mix too because they’ll wamt try to come in and fuck it up by taking over…

    2. Miles says:

      Personally, I do not trust the state govts to do the right thing; at least not all of them. For that reason, I think it should be legalized at the federal level and then apply to all the states.

      It’s not hard to imagine that if the states could decide for themselves, that places like Oklahoma or Texas might decide to maintain their lockem-up mentality.

      I would definitely agree that if a state decides to legalize that the Feds should not do anything to stop it. The Feds have no business or right to force their idiocy on the American people they are supposed to serve just because big pharma or big alcohol pads their greedy pockets.

    3. Galileo Galilei says:

      If the social conservatives gain control of the Federal government in 2016, they may ignore the data showing that ‘..six out of ten voters believe that states, not the federal government, should authorize and enforce marijuana policy’. Realize that ‘..many respondents failed to sympathize with the idea that the drug war was overly punitive or that the federal government might once again begin cracking down on state-compliant cannabis consumers and providers.” In one dystopian vision, you may wake up to the news that every swat team in the country was mobilized overnight in a ‘tooth and nail’, coordinated effort with the Feds to kill reform in its sleep. The national guard was even mobilized in this heroic effort to ‘Stop the madness’, Matt Lauer reports.

      “Nationwide, voter support for cannabis legalization was highest among Democrats (64 percent), Millennials (61 percent), and non-white/Hispanic voters (61 percent).

      No surprises here.

      A majority of women voters and self-identified Republicans opposed legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.

      I think ‘women voters’ unfamiliar with marijuana, probably think the violence associated with alcohol will result from marijuana use, too. Nothing could be further from the truth. Apparently, the well known bit about longer, more powerful orgasms has eluded them, too. I’m old enough to remember when oral sex was considered a perversion. Then the girls learned they, too, could be orgasmic — things changed in a hurry. Women opposed to marijuana?!! This is a larval phase. What are we going to do about it guys?!!

      ‘Self-identified Republicans’ I’ve been pushing the notion that these guys are NOT friends of NORML here since before 2014. I’ve always been loath to vote based on a single issue, but I’ve come to realize that it is a natural outcome of our democratic (actually republican) system. Republicans will not embrace reform as long as they can win elections without doing so. Many of the folks here at NORML supported Romney in the last presidential election. As Republicans learn the truth about the ‘demon weed’ and the drug war, folks comfortable around them, may help move the GOP ‘awakening’ forward more quickly. (Consistent GOP preference for ideology over science assure I will NOT be one of you NEVER!.)

      “By contrast, majority support (78 percent) for the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes extended throughout all demographics.”
      — To thwart the advance of medical science is a crime against us all.

    4. imyou says:

      Individuals should decide, no one else. As Terence Mckenna once said “I’m stoned and I’m proud. If that’s a problem for you, then you’ve got a problem fella.”

    5. Evening Bud says:

      @ Miles,

      Normally I would agree with you about the Feds handling the matter instead of the states. However, in the current climate in Washington, I see endless gridlock on the federal level. The only thing Congress seems capable of passing is their own wage increases. The GOP is back in charge–OMG, batten down the hatches.

    6. TheOracle says:

      Agreed. Get that legislation to keep the feds out and get them to stop meddling passed.

      Something needs to get in the works for the UN Secretary General to receive a request, petition, or whatever the hell you want to call it, remove cannabis from their International Prohibitionist Schedule altogether.

      When the hell is deBlasio going to disallow any time or money being spent on prosecuting cannabis delicts? He needs to make it the lowest priority, lower than freakin’ parking tickets. Forget this summons shit! I want to be able to go to NYC for vacation, weekend, week, 2 weeks whatever, and be able to walk up to a cop and ask them where there is a kofieshop or cannabis shop or whatever where adults can buy weed and get a straight answer without getting hassled let alone arrested. I want it to be like the cops don’t give a shit about cannabis prohibition anymore. I want to be able to look up where at WeedMaps and if I have to ask someone a cop or city worker or whoever for walking directions get them no problem, no hassle, no sweat, knowing that NYC, regardless of what near prohibitionist Governor Douchebag Cuomo wants, that NYC is NOT enforcing cannabis prohibition.

    7. Bob Constantine says:

      The problem with ANY kind of government interference or control into what a peaceful person may put into their own body is not solved when a lesser tyrant (a coercive state) is your daddy instead of a greater tyrant (a coercive nation).

      Of course many people are so consumed with how cannabis should be “regulated” that the very idea of the individual person being the ultimate authority on what or if they consume something is almost foreign.

      Freedom requires that the individual control their own body….or it isn’t freedom.

    8. mexweed says:

      “…more research still needs to be done to identify a compelling value for legalizing recreational marijuana – the way that compassion underlies support for medical marijuana.”

      Did you notice that Inspirational use was not mentioned? Imagination and inventiveness are presumably so relegated to a tiny minority that the function of cannabis in fostering or encouraging such performance “value” doesn’t show up on the poll-takers’ radar?

      Bear in mind that inventors are always threatening to discover a way to provide goods and services less eco-destructively or even just less expensively, and there is always some $$ Corporation funding Republican candidates to prevent that. Favorite example: cannabis legalization will bring with it legalization of vaporizers and flexdrawtube one-hitters which, once tobacco users catch on and imitate, will crash $igarette “industry” profits– and there’s some inventor out there who is one toke away from inventing a way to TEACH addicts how to sWitch.

    9. Julian says:

      This is hilarious. Republican lawmakers know theyre fighting a losing battle. So they look for delays; like slow legalization in D.C.;
      But what tragic irony that Republicans cant go against state’s rights and be against marijuana legalization at the same time! Or they wouldnt be Republicans! While the intent of allowing states to decide is dully noted for states like here in Texas where we would receive an Abbott-Habit delay, there are states like California that will legalize medicinal marijuana in less than two years and take the pro-marijuana population of voters well over the half-way mark in 2016.
      Compromise is a boomerang, aint it Michelle Leonhart?

    10. Valient says:

      Last I checked the Constitution said so as well. Why do we still pretend that the government had the power to make the Controlled Substances Act without an Amendment?

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