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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 23, 2017

    Record numbers of voters support regulating the marijuana market and oppose federal efforts to interfere or undermine state laws permitting the plant’s use or sale, according to nationwide polling data released today by Quinnipiac University.

    Ninety-three percent of voters — including 96 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Republicans — support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes,” the highest total ever reported in a national poll. Among those respondents older than 65 years of age, 92 percent endorsed legalizing medical marijuana.

    Fifty-nine percent of voters similarly support making the adult use of marijuana legal in the United States. That total is in line with recent polling data compiled by Gallup in 2016 which reported that 60 percent of US adults support legalization — a historic high. Respondents who identified as Democrats (72 percent) were most likely to support legalization. Fifty-eight percent of Independents also expressed support, but only 35 percent of Republicans did so. Among the various age groups polled, only those over the age of 65 failed to express majority support for legalization.

    Finally, 71 percent of respondents say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.” This percentage is the highest level of support ever reported with regard to limiting the federal government from interfering in states’ marijuana policies.

    The rising support may provide a boost for pending federal legislation, HR 975: The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which prevents the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana. You can urge your members of Congress to support this act by clicking here.

    The Quinnipiac University poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 18, 2016

    ballot_box_leafAmericans who use cannabis or hold favorable views toward the plant tend to identify themselves politically as Independent rather than as a Democrat or a Republican, according to the results of a Cannalytics consumer research survey published today.

    Among respondents, 46 percent defined themselves as Independent. Of this group, over 90 percent consider marijuana policy reform to be among the most important election issues, and more than 75 percent said that they are more motivated to vote this election because of pending cannabis-specific ballot measures.

    Voters in nine states will decide on Election Day in favor of statewide ballot measures seeking to legalize either the medical use or the adult use of marijuana.

    Cannalytics and its partners, including NORML, provided a 51-point questionnaire to over 5,800 respondents to gauge their opinions on cannabis policy, as well as their own marijuana use. Respondents typically were well educated, most did not smoke tobacco, and 53 percent suggested that they would consume less alcohol if cannabis were legally regulated for adults.

    Full results of the 2016 Cannabis Voter Report are available online at: http://www.cannalytics.us/.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 7, 2016

    legalization_pollThe majority of US voters believe that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legalized, while more than nine in ten Americans endorse allowing its use for therapeutic purposes, according to the results of nationwide polling data provided by Quinnipiac University.

    Fifty-four percent of respondents say that the “use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States.” Support for legalization is strongest among those age 18 to 39 (69 percent), Democrat voters (65 percent), Independents (61 percent), and males (60 percent). Support is weakest among Republicans (36 percent), those over 65 years of age (37 percent), and female voters (47 percent).

    By contrast, super-majorities in all demographic categories — including 94 percent of Democrats, 93 percent of Independents, and 81 percent of Republicans — support permitting physicians to authorize medical marijuana use to qualified patients.

    In response to a separate polling question, 87 percent of respondents agreed with a recently enacted Congressional amendment authorizing V.A. physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to military veterans in states that permit it.

    The poll’s results are similar to those of numerous recent national surveys, including those by CBS News, the Associated Press, and Gallup showing majority support for marijuana law reform.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 10, 2015

    South Carolina voters, including some two-thirds of Republicans, do not believe that the incoming administration ought to interfere with the enactment of state laws legalizing marijuana, according to polling data conducted by Public Policy Polling and published today by Marijuana-Majority.com.

    Sixty-five percent of South Carolina believe “[S]tates should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference.” Seventy-three percent of Independents endorsed the notion, as did 66 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats.

    Only 16 percent of voters agreed that the federal government should continue to “arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws.”

    Similar support has been voiced among voters in the other early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where super-majorities oppose federal interference in state marijuana laws.

    Nationwide polls have reported similar results. Gallup pollsters reported that 64 percent of respondents oppose federal interference in state laws that allow for the legal use of cannabis by adults, while a poll commissioned by the think-tank Third Way found that six out of ten voters believe that states, not the federal government, should authorize and enforce marijuana policy. Most recently, a 2015 nationwide Pew poll reported that a strong majority of Americans — including 64 percent of Independents, 58 percent of Democrats, and 54 percent of Republicans — believe that the federal government should not enforce laws in states that allow marijuana use.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel August 17, 2015

    Oregon's Elected Officials Show Leadership

    For those of us who have spent years in the trenches of marijuana policy reform, it has been a rare sight to see elected leaders actually lead. It has been the voting public who have paved the way.

    But there is a glimmer of hope in Oregon.

    In the four states, and the District of Columbia, that have legalized marijuana in the face of federal prohibition, those courageous and innovative steps were taken by the voters, not the elected officials in those jurisdictions.

    In fact, not only were most elected officials unwilling to seriously consider enacting legalization legislatively, most also publicly opposed the proposals and urged their defeat at the polls. Fortunately the voters led the way, and left their “leaders” to follow.

    So we are accustomed to the challenge of moving progressive marijuana legislation forward despite the active opposition of most politicians. It means we mostly focus on those states that offer a voter initiative as a way to change public policy by going around the legislature. And it sometimes results in constitutional amendments being proposed, despite higher approval requirements in some states, to protect against the possibility that the legislature might simply ignore the will of the voters and reverse a legalization initiative by a vote of the out-of-touch legislators still holding on to their war-on-marijuana mentality.

    But there are some new signs that this overwhelming opposition of elected officials to marijuana legalization may be coming to an end, at least in some states, and that some elected officials are now deciding to embrace these new changes and to take steps to implement them in a common-sense manner, to serve the public interest.

    I am referring specifically to the recent decision of the Oregon legislature to begin offering legal recreational marijuana sales a year earlier than had been expected. They had no legal requirement to make this change, but they decided to accept the will of the voters and to implement the new law sooner rather than later. They acted like leaders, rather than sore losers.

    SB 460 Approved by Legislature, Signed by Governor

    Measure 91, the legalization initiative that was approved by 56 percent of Oregon voters in November of 2014, would have been implemented in two-steps. First, as of July 1, 2015, it became legal for those 21 and above to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, to possess up to 8 ounces in the home, and to privately cultivate up to four plants. But provisions in the initiative that gave the Oregon Liquor Control Commission the authority to begin issuing licenses for commercial growers and sellers, delayed this process until January 4, 2016, and legal dispensaries were not expected to be operational until October of 2016.

    The result, like the current situation in the District of Columbia, is that recreational marijuana is now legal in Oregon, but there is no legal market. But unlike the District, where the City Council has been hamstrung by Congress in their efforts to establish licensed growers and sellers, the Oregon legislature decided to fix the problem with a short-term solution – they enacted emergency legislation allowing the existing 300-plus licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, which are regulated by the Oregon Health Authority, to begin selling to adult recreational smokers on October 1, 2015.

    Recreational consumers will also be able to purchase marijuana seeds and up to four non-flowering plants. (In a nod to local control, counties that opposed Measure 91 with at least 55 percent of the vote, all located on the east side of the state, were given the right to ban recreational sales during this interim program.)

    That’s right! The legislature enacted, and Gov. Kate Brown promptly signed, SB 460, bringing full legalization to Oregon a full year ahead of schedule. For once, instead of trying to undermine the new law, they have embraced it and elected to try to make it work as intended by the voters.

    Gov. Brown’s office called the measure “a smart solution to a short-term logistical problem,” adding, “If marijuana is legal to use, it shouldn’t be illegal to buy.”

    The new law will permit recreational users to purchase up to one-quarter of an ounce of marijuana per transaction from any of the licensed medical dispensaries. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will continue forward with the process of issuing recreational licenses after the first of the year, and when those new recreational dispensaries are up and running, consumers will be permitted to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana per transaction.

    A Model for Elected Officials Moving Forward

    One admirable, common sense step by one state legislature does not make a trend, but it does establish a powerful example of how elected officials can get ahead of the curve and work cooperatively to implement these new laws, without delay, and one that can be the model for elected officials in the states that are expected to adopt legalization in the coming months.

    A majority of the voters nationwide now support full legalization, and that support appears to be growing. They understand that prohibition is a failed public policy and legalization with regulation is a better option for everyone, smokers and non-smokers alike. When voters clearly register their approval for marijuana legalization, it’s time for the politicians to acknowledge that change, embrace it, and take steps to implement the new laws in a timely and responsible manner. It is time to lead, for a change.

    This column first appeared @ marijuana.com.

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