Americans overwhelmingly agree, by an almost 2-to-1 margin, that the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that legalize cannabis, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.
"These polls are making it quite clear that most Americans do not want the federal government to stand in the way after a state's voters have approved a ballot measure to make marijuana legal for adults," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The initiatives in Colorado and Washington received strong majority support because the voters believe regulating marijuana like alcohol would make their communities safer than the current system of prohibition."
"It's not just the people of Colorado and Washington who want to see these ballot measures implemented in accordance with the will of the voters," Fox said. "It's nearly two-thirds of all Americans. The Obama administration should not undermine their sensible action by ensuring marijuana sales remain underground where the profits prop up cartels and gangs instead of legitimate businesses."
The question became a very timely one on Thursday, as Washington became the first state in the U.S. to legalize and regulate the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older, reports USA Today.
Marijuana Smokers Celebrate I-502... By Violating I-502
Celebrants gathered at midnight as Wednesday became Thursday at Seattle's Space Needle to celebrate the new legalization law coming into effect. Ironically, everyone smoking marijuana in public to celebrate I-502 was in violation of, you guessed it, I-502, under which public use of cannabis remains illegal, as does passing a joint to a friend.
Seattle cops, though, were told to take a hands-off approach to enforcing the law; a few years ago, Seattle voters instructed the police force to make marijuana enforcement their lowest priority. Voters in less liberal parts of Washington can only wish their local boys in blue had similarly enlightened attitudes.
A similar law is scheduled to take effect next month in Colorado, where voters last month also approved a ballot measure legalizing the manufacture, distribution and possession of up to an ounce of cannabis by adults.
That puts both states at odds with the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which nonsensically classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD.
But that's nothing new, as the voters of both states already approved medical marijuana in defiance of federal law. Washington voters legalized medicinal cannabis in 1998, and Colorado voters followed suit in 2000.
The Box Canyon That Never Was
|Allen St. Pierre, NORML, January 2012: "NORML... [has] been warning ganjapreneurs and their legal counsel at our seminars and conferences about this political and legal box canyon since at least 2002"|
The fact that both Colorado and Washington were already medical marijuana states before voters approved general legalization effectively served to trash the asinine "box canyon" theory of medical marijuana, loudly promoted by a now thoroughly discredited and increasingly foolish-looking "Radical" Russ Belville, as well as clueless Executive Director Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
So much for medical marijuana laws hurting general legalization, eh? It's a real shame that even this hasn't shut the loud mouth of Belville, who is now blithely ignoring his earlier, demonstrably clueless braying on the issue, despite being sacked as NORML's water boy. It probably won't work on St. Pierre either, when it comes to his bizarre, misguided (and, in view of the level of public support for medicinal cannabis) quixotic campaign against medical marijuana patients.
Buyer's Remose? More Like Buyer's Euphoria
The same goes for the hoary old theory, often brandished about by weed opponents in states which are considering taking the leap into medicalizing cannabis, that voters in medical marijuana states somehow have "buyer's remorse" about allowing patients to use the herb.
They'd have us believe that if voters got another chance, they'd take the pot right out of sick people's hands and stuff the ganja genie back in the bottle.
Balderdash. Voters in two of the states which are most familiar with marijuana and its mainstreaming, states which have the most vital and active medical marijuana communities, have approved expanding access to the herb to all adults over 21. Sure doesn't sound like buyer's remorse to me!
Meanwhile, Back At Gallup
Some may be quite surprised to learn that the age group most in favor of a hands-off approach by the federal government when states legalize marijuana is those 50 to 64 years old. Seventy percent of these Baby Boomers say the feds shouldn't enforce marijuana laws when states have legalized; 69 percent of those under 30 agree, as do 61 percent of those 31 to 49, and an 61 percent of seniors 65 and older.
The poll of 1,015 Americans, taken November 26-29, has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.