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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 5, 2014

    A majority of Rhode Island voters back legalizing and regulating the use and sale of cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, according to a just-released Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project.

    Fifty-three percent of respondents support “changing Rhode Island law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, so stores would be licensed to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older?” Forty-one percent of respondents oppose the idea. Six percent of voters were undecided.

    Legislation to legalize the adult consumption and licensed production and retail sale of cannabis in the state is expected to be reintroduced shortly. (Rhode Island does not have a statewide ballot initiative process.) In previous years, state lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported the passage of legislation to legalize the use, growing, and dispensing of medical marijuana to qualified patients. The PPP survey found that 77 percent of Ocean State voters support the state’s present medical marijuana program.

    The PPP poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

    In recent months, separate statewide polls in Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Texas have all shown majority support for legalizing the adult consumption of cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 4, 2014

    A majority of likely Massachusetts voters support legalizing marijuana, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll released today.

    Fifty-three percent of respondents said that they “favor … the legalization of marijuana.” Thirty-seven percent of respondents opposed legalization. Ten percent were undecided.

    In previous elections, Massachusetts voters have overwhelmingly approved statewide ballot measures decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses and legalizing the dispensing of the plant for therapeutic purposes.

    Local activists have already begun plans for a possible 2016 ballot initiative drive on the question of full legalization.

    The Suffolk poll possesses a margin or error of +/- 4 percent.

    Over the past few months, separate statewide polls in Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Texas have all shown majority support for legalizing the adult consumption of cannabis.

    Recent national polls by Gallup (58 percent), CNN (55 percent), CBS (51 percent), and NBC (55 percent) have also shown majority support for legalizing cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 3, 2014

    Hawaii voters overwhelmingly support legalizing and regulating the adult use of cannabis, according to just-released statewide survey data by QMark Research and commissioned by the Hawaii Drug Policy Action Group.

    Sixty-six percent of respondents said they endorsed legalizing cannabis, an increase of nine points since pollsters last posed the question in 2012.

    Seventy-seven percent of respondents separately said that jail time is an inappropriate sanction for those found to be in violation of the state’s existing marijuana possession laws. Under present law, possessing any amount of cannabis for non-medical purposes in Hawaii is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

    Eight-five percent of those polled also backed the establishment of licensed medical cannabis dispensaries. Hawaii lawmakers legalized the possession and cultivation of medicinal cannabis by state-qualified patients in 2000, but did not provide for dispensaries.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC now have licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. (California dispensaries are not licensed by the state.) Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

    Summaries of various pending bills to liberalize Hawaii’s marijuana policies are available online here and here.

    The QMark poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.

    For those keeping score, recent statewide polls in Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Texas all show majority support for legalizing the adult consumption of cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 24, 2014

    Federal officials are poised to unveil new regulations allowing for financial institutions to legally interact with licensed businesses that are engaged in cannabis commerce.

    United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced the forthcoming guidelines yesterday in a speech at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

    “You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these place. They (retail facilities that dispense cannabis) want to be able to use the banking system,” Holder said. “And so we (the Obama administration) will be issuing some regulations I think very soon to deal with that issue.”

    Presently, federal law discourages financial institutions from accepting deposits or providing banking services for facilities that engage in cannabis-related commerce because the plant remains illegal under the US Controlled Substances Act. While the Obama administration is unlikely to amend cannabis’ illegal status under federal law, the forthcoming rules are anticipated to provide clear guidelines for banks that wish to provide support for state-licensed cannabis facilities.

    In Colorado, where retail stores began legally selling cannabis on January 1 to anyone age 21 and older, businesses were estimated to have engaged in over $5 million in marijuana sales in their first week of business.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 23, 2014

    A majority of US adults believe that the consumption of marijuana ought to be legal, according to the results of a nationwide CBS poll released today.

    Fifty-one percent of respondents answered affirmatively to the question, “Should marijuana use be legal?” The percentage is the highest ever reported by the survey, which has been tracking public opinion on the issue since 1979 (when only 27 percent of adults endorsed legalization), and marks a six point jump in support since the last time pollsters posed the question in April 2013.

    Forty-four percent of respondents opposed legalizing cannabis.

    Age, gender, and political affiliation influenced respondents’ opinions regarding legalization. A majority of all respondents under age 65 now support legalizing cannabis. Most men (57 percent), but not women (46 percent) back legalization. Most self-identified Democrats (59 percent) and Independents (54 percent), but not Republicans (35 percent) support making marijuana legal.

    Separate, recently released nationwide surveys by Gallup and CNN also reported that a majority of Americans are now in favor of legalizing cannabis.

    When asked about their views on the therapeutic use of cannabis, 86 percent of respondents told CBS pollsters that physicians ought to be allowed to authorize marijuana use to their patients — an increase of 24 percent since 1997, when pollsters first began asking the question.

    Sixty-two percent of respondents also endorsed letting individual states rather than the federal government specify marijuana policies. That figure was up slightly (3 percent) since November 2012.

    Over 1,018 adults nationwide participated in the survey, which possesses a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

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