Public poll on Marijuana

Posted By Horizon Staff April 11th, 2013 in News : 0 COMMENTS

Amanda Siegel
Staff Writer

The controversy over the legalization of marijuana continues in both the political and social spheres, but it appears that the majority public opinion is shifting significantly from where it has been in past years; a survey released last Thursday by the Pew Research Center revealed that 52 percent of Americans support legalization. (SOURCE?)

This marks the first time in more than four decades that the majority in America has held this opinion. 10 years ago, only a third of the American population supported legalization (LA Times).

In addition to the results of the general poll, 72 percent of respondents said the federal government’s efforts to control marijuana use and circulation “cost more than they are worth” (LA Times).  This may indicate that urgent economic concerns have begun to take precedent over social problems like drug use.

The way that the public categorizes the marijuana issue may also have shifted.  A poll taken in 2006 indicated that half of respondents considered marijuana usage “morally wrong;” this has dropped to a third of respondents in the recent poll.  In addition, half of those polled now say that the legalization of marijuana is “not a moral issue” at all (LA Times).

Younger Americans still back marijuana legalization at a greater percentage than older Americans, but the majority results show that all generations are beginning to lean towards support.  Some of these changes have been attributed to the opinion of baby boomers, which has changed dramatically from the early 1990s (SOURCE?).

Currently, the legalization of marijuana stands at an unresolved tension between state laws and federal enforcement.  Thus far, 24 states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized personal use of marijuana or have legalized it for recreational or medical use.  Yet, federal law has maintained that marijuana is an illegal drug with dangerous health impacts and no legitimate medical use.  This stands in stark contract with public opinion, where 77 percent of responders agree on the legitimacy of medical marijuana and support its legalization.

The slow adjustment of federal policy to the trends in public and state support is likely due to the party split in Congress that prevents the movement of new legislation.  Conservative Republicans, with a majority in the House, are heavily against legalization, while liberal and moderate Republicans and Democrats advocate loosening laws concerning medical and recreational use.

The Obama administration has thus far been vague as to how federal law enforcement will manifest in states like Washington and Colorado that have already legalized marijuana use.

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