According to a national poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, a record high 58% of American voters said they think marijuana should be made legal, compared to only 39% who do not. In addition, 50% of respondents said they think marijuana will become legal under federal law within the next 10 years.
A strong plurality (47%) 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% said they approve of President Obama using federal resources to prevent them from going into effect. Interestingly, support for the rights of states could be higher, but 46% of Republicans surveyed support the federal government asserting its power over the states.
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%) 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.
Statement from Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy reform organization and the primary funder of the successful Colorado initiative:
These results demonstrate that the American people do not want the federal government to interfere in state marijuana laws. 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. 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. Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered. The Obama administration cannot stop history. 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.”
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