Only One-Third Would Approve of President Obama Interfering in Implementation of Colorado and Washington Ballot Measures
Marijuana will officially become legal for adults in Washington on Thursday when new law goes into effect
According to a national poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) from November 30 to December 2, a record high 58 percent of American voters said they think marijuana should be made legal, compared to only 39 percent who do not. In addition, 50 percent of respondents said they think marijuana will become legal under federal law within the next 10 years.
A strong plurality (47 percent) of respondents said they think President Obama should allow Colorado and Washington to implement the ballot measures approved by voters last month to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. Just 33 percent said they approve of President Obama using federal resources to prevent them from going into effect.
Fifty-nine percent think whether or not to legalize marijuana should be left up to each individual state government to decide - including 65 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of those who oppose legalizing marijuana in general.
Interestingly, though, support for the rights of states could be higher, but 46 percent of Republicans surveyed expressing support the federal government asserting its power over the states when it comes to cannabis.
"The big question on everyone's mind is - how will the federal government respond to the decisive victories in Colorado and Washington?" said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
"What this new poll shows is that Americans believe that states should be able to move forward with the responsible regulation of marijuana," Nadelmann said. "The Obama administration would be wise to allow them to do so."
Support for legalizing marijuana also increased from 45 percent in September to 47 percent today. Another 47 percent think it should remain prohibited.
This confirms what Gallup and other polls have shown over the past year. Whereas the public was almost 2:1 against marijuana legalization just eight years ago, the country is now evenly split, with demographic trends suggesting growing support in years to come.
|Ethan Nadelmann, Drug Policy Alliance: "What this new poll shows is that Americans believe that states should be able to move forward with the responsible regulation of marijuana"|
The poll also found a substantial increase in support for medical marijuana. Eighty-three percent of Americans favor allowing doctors to prescribe small amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses - up from 77 percent a year ago and 62 percent in 1997.
A majority of Americans of all ages favor allowing medical marijuana - as well as most Republicans, Democrats and independents. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
Marijuana possession by adults is scheduled to become legal in Washington on Thursday when Initiative 502 officially goes into effect. A similar measure adopted by Colorado voters, Amendment 64, will go into effect no later than January 6.
The new laws in Colorado and Washington make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. They also direct the legislatures of both states to create regulations in order to establish a legal market for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults. So far, the federal government has not stated whether it intends to use any resources to interfere with the implementation of the new state laws.
The poll of 1,325 voters asked the same question that has been used by Gallup since 1970 to measure support for marijuana legalization in the country. In October 2011 Gallup found, for the first time, a majority (50 percent) of Americans supported making marijuana legal.
Election results and pre-election polls in Colorado suggest PPP's automated telephone survey might be a more accurate gauge of support for marijuana legalization, perhaps due to a hesitancy of voters to express their pro-marijuana sentiments to live operators, such as those utilized by Gallup.
"These results demonstrate that the American people do not want the federal government to interfere in state marijuana laws," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), primary funder of the successful Colorado initiative. "More than 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington have elected to regulate the sale of marijuana, rather than have the market controlled by gangs and cartels.
"The Obama administration should not undermine their rational action by putting profits back in the hands of criminals," Fox sdaid. "Now is the time to respect the people of Colorado and Washington and their desire to opt out of the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.
"The increasingly strong national support for making marijuana legal demonstrates that the writing is on the wall," Fox said. "Marijuana prohibition's days are numbered.
"The Obama administration cannot stop history," Fox said. "If it interferes in the implementation of these new laws, it will only unnecessarily prolong the chaos of an uncontrolled market. The time for state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales is here."
You can download the full poll results at http://blog.mpp.org/prohibition/new-poll-record-high-support-for-marijuana-in-u-s/12042012/