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.
Dear NORML Members and Supporters:
Please allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment or two about the wonderful progress we have all seen in recent years, with a majority of the country now supporting and end to prohibition, and the adoption of various forms of marijuana legalization in many states. The political environment was not always so favorable.
When we started NORML in 1970, only 12% of the population supported legalization; 88% supported prohibition. It has been a long, slow and sometimes arduous effort, but we have finally won the hearts and minds of most is our citizens, despite the fact that only 14% are marijuana smokers. They have concluded that prohibition causes far more harm to society than the use of marijuana, and that regulating the sale of marijuana is the better policy.
With our recent spate of victories at the state level, currently 17 states and the District of Columbia (and several major cities) have stopped treating marijuana smokers like criminals; 23 states and the District of Columbia offer legal medical marijuana; and four states have fully legalized marijuana with state-licensed dispensaries. We have reached a tipping point in the decades-long drive to legalize marijuana, and with your continued support, there is no turning back!
And we can already see the benefits: for the fourth year in a row the number of Americans arrested on marijuana charges has declined. And these declines will only increase as we move forward with victories in additional states. We expect full legalization voter initiatives to be approved in 2016 in California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine (and perhaps a few others that are only now being organized).
NORML’s Work Has Just Begun
In each of these legalized states, the real job of NORML is just getting started. When I founded NORML it was the result of some work I had done with consumer-advocate Ralph Nader, and I envisioned the organization as a Consumers’ Union for marijuana smokers. As a consumer lobby, we must work to assure the smokers have access to legal marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable. We must demand that the marijuana be tested to assure there are no molds or pesticides, and we need to know the strength of the THC and the CBD, and to know what terpenoids are present. These are basic consumer rights that we could not get when marijuana was only available on the black market, but which we have every right to expect in a legal market.
And to encourage the newly legal marijuana industry to abide by a set of “best practices”, we have established the NORML Business Network, to help consumers recognize “consumer-friendly” companies. As in any new industry, there are some whose only interest is to maximize their profits, but many of these new companies feel a responsibility to adopt higher standards. The NORML Business Network will help consumers distinguish between the two.
4 Down – 46 To Go!
We obviously have much work to be done before we totally end marijuana prohibition and stop the arrest of responsible marijuana smokers all across America. But we have made a substantial start, and the public support and political momentum is clearly on our side. With your continued support, we will see this fight through to a successful conclusion, and set a standard for the rest of the world to follow.
Please make a generous contribution to NORML today of $50 or $100 or $1,000 or whatever you can afford. If you wish to make a tax-exempt contribution, make your donation to the NORML Foundation. But please do your part to recognize the tremendous progress we have made over these last four decades, and to assure we continue that progress in the months and years ahead. Donate $50 or more and receive the new documentary DVD called ‘EVERGREEN: The road to marijuana legalization in Washington State’.
NORML Founder and Legal Counsel
Last week in conjunction with the well attended Marijuana Business Conference & Expo was the launch of a new business-centric webpage created to highlight the women and men of America’s nascent cannabis industry, as well as to foster needed B2B relationships and ‘best of industry’ practices among the many thousands of new cannabis-related businesses that have been founded in the last five years.
CannabisBusinessExecutive’s launch demonstrates a basic and continuing need by cannabis entrepreneurs for community and kinship in the fast growing and challenging new domestic cannabis industry, notably in the states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington (where voters since 2012 have approved binding ballot initiatives replacing failed cannabis prohibition policies in favor of tax-n-regulate policies that look similar to existing alcohol policies).
Of note regarding CannabisBusinessExecutive’s unique content are three of it’s main features:
Additionally, for citizens interested in cannabis-related business news and investing opportunities, other excellent sources include:
For the doubting Thomas that cannabis legalization is not gaining more and more cultural and commercial cachet in America (and the world), look no further than to the major corporate cannabis branding announcement EXCLUSIVE made yesterday morning on The Today Show during the show’s prime time (7:35AM).
After several decades of Reefer Madness propaganda dominating the discussion of marijuana in the media, it should be no surprise that many Americans, especially older Americans who are not personally familiar with marijuana, believe that “getting high” is somehow a bad experience, something to be avoided by responsible citizens. It is assumed that this experience is a waste of time, or even worse, that it somehow damages the healthy individual.
Yet, I have found that marijuana smoking has been a positive experience in my life, allowing me, when I am high, to stand back half-a-step and see my life in a clearer perspective. Yes, we all know that getting high is fun: food tastes better when one is high, and music sounds better and sex is even more enjoyable. But getting high is more than just pleasurable; in the right situation, it is an enriching experience.
Specifically, if I have something I need to write, whether an article for publication or the outline for a talk I am scheduled to deliver, I find it extraordinarily helpful to isolate myself in my home office for a few hours and get stoned, allowing my mind to freely wander, making notes of any seemingly insightful thoughts that result, jotting down whatever free-associations arise, and frequently discovering issues and new ways to analyze a topic that should have been obvious to me all along, but had not come to mind until I was high.
It’s as if the marijuana high eliminates some of the barriers we otherwise construct on our imagination and our creativity. Somehow, we appear to protect ourselves from the perceived risk of thinking out of the mainstream, by closing off some creative pathways. Marijuana can reopen those pathways, and give us new understanding.
The good news is that numbers are down slightly from 2012’s arrest figures. In 2012, there were about 749,825 marijuana arrests (compared to 757,969 in 2011).
The new report shows a modest decrease in arrests. In 2013, there was a total of 693,481 arrests made for marijuana charges, with the overwhelming majority of these being for simple possession. Law enforcement made about 609,423 arrests for possession alone, a decrease of 48,808 arrests compared to 2012. While we may be seeing slight decreases due to the growing number of states who have begun to reform their marijuana policies, the fact that over 600,000 individuals are still being arrested for a non-violent act shows how much work we have left to do in ending our disastrous prohibition of marijuana.
Using the ACLU low-level estimate of cost per arrest ($750), the minimum enforcement cost for the 609,423 individuals put in handcuffs for just marijuana possession in 2013 would be in excess of $457,067,250.
(NOTE: Numbers in this reporting were rounded to the nearest decimal point. You can read the full Uniform Crime Report here.)