Does Drug Policy Reform Have a Bigger Popular Mandate Than Obama?


The Marijuana Policy Project's Bruce Mirken notes that the majorities supporting the marijuana decriminalization measure in Massachusetts and the medical marijuana initiative in Michigan (65 percent and 63 percent, respectively) exceed the share of voters who went for Obama in each state (62 percent and 55 percent respectively). In those states at least, you could say marijuana reform has a bigger popular mandate than the president-elect. In retrospect, this is not so surprising: National polls have long indicated that a large majority of Americans think 1) patients who can benefit from marijuana should be able to obtain it legally and 2) people should not go to jail for smoking pot. (So far they do not take the next logical step, which is to recognize that people who simply help others smoke pot should not go to jail either.) Obama already has promised to call off the DEA's medical marijuana raids. In light of the popular support for drug policy reform, is it too much to hope that he will step back generally in this area and (as the Constitution requires) allow states to experiment with different approaches?