Drug Policy

Poll Finds Most Americans Support Treating Marijuana Like Alcohol; Even More Think the Feds Should Let States Do So

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As the Obama administration mulls its response to marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, the latest Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey finds that most Americans think the federal government should not interfere. Asked if the feds should arrest people who use marijuana in the states that have legalized it, 72 percent of respondents said no. More strikingly, by a margin of 2 to 1, the respondents said the federal government should not arrest newly legal growers or sellers either. President Obama has said there are no plans to go after pot smokers, which the federal government almost never does anyway, but he has not said how state-licensed suppliers will be treated.

Opposition to federal interference was even stronger than support for legalization. While 47 percent favored "legalizing marijuana for recreational use" and 53 percent said "the government should treat marijuana the same as alcohol," 68 percent said the feds should leave state-legal growers alone and 64 percent said the same about state-legal sellers. These results indicate that some people who oppose marijuana legalization nevertheless believe the choice should be left to the states, as a consistent federalist would. Reflecting that tendency, most Republicans and self-identified conservatives supported marijuana prohibition, but most also said the federal government should not try to impose that policy on Colorado and Washington. These findings are similar to those of a CBS News poll conducted last November, except that poll found even stronger federalist preferences among Republicans, 65 percent of whom said states should determine whether marijuana is legal within their borders, compared to 55 percent of Democrats, even though Democrats were more likely to say pot should be legal (51 percent vs. 27 percent). Over all, 59 percent of respondents in that poll said the feds should mind their own business, compared to around 66 percent (averaging the responses for growers and sellers) in the Reason-Rupe poll.

It's interesting that more people (a majority, in fact) supported treating marijuana like alcohol, which means legalizing production and sale, than supported the legalization of recreational use, which could be interpreted as applying only to possession of small amounts. A 2010 A.P. poll generated similar results: While 34 percent supported "legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use," 56 percent said regulations for marijuana should be either "the same" as regulations for alcohol or "less strict." These counterintuitive differences probably reflect the power of the alcohol comparison, which was emphasized by the campaigns for Colorado's Amendment 64, dubbed the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, and Washington's Initiative 502, which assigns regulation of marijuana stores to the state liquor control board. Both initiatives won by about 10 percentage points. People who favor pot prohibition in the abstract may change their minds when confronted by the irrational legal distinction between alcohol and marijuana. A 2012 Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project found that a plurality of Americans (45 percent) believe marijuana is safer than alcohol, and I suspect that most of the 12 percent who said they were not sure would say it is at least no more dangerous.

As surveys generally find, support for legalizing marijuana in the Reason-Rupe poll was stronger among Democrats (57 percent of whom said it should be treated like alcohol) than among Republicans (35 percent), among progressives (72 percent) and libertarians (86 percent) than among conservatives (39 percent), and among people younger than 65 (whose support ranged from 53 percent among 45-to-54-year-olds to 58 percent among 35-to-44-year-olds) than among people of retirement age (41 percent). The generational divide is clearly not just a matter of people getting more conservative as they get older, since overall support for legalization has been rising more or less steadily since the 1960s (with a dip in the '80s), breaking through 50 percent in the Gallup poll for the first time last year. Allowing legalization experiments like those in Colorado and Washington to proceed, as a large majority of Americans want, is apt to accelerate this trend.

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  1. Like the Feds give a fuck what people think.

    1. Like we give a fuck what you think.

      1. Like I give a fuck if you give a fuck if I give a fuck.

        1. “I see you’ve played knifey spooney before.”

  2. numbers like these should make a conviction impossible, so I am left to conclude the game is rigged.

    1. To be fair, when juries are told about jury nullification, they’re told that they’ll get in trouble if they try it. If nullification were taken more seriously, the law would never convict.

  3. You see that dude on youtube who flipped the fuck out cuz his new employee was on pills? haha, I agree with him, but damn that was funny. .. Stop eating drugs!

  4. Marijuana will be bigger than Green Tea, it’ll be in everything from ice cream to car wax.

    1. The explosion of niche businesses, MJ products and associated products, and stores will be epic–truly epic–if it is legalized across the board in the entire country. Honestly, it could probably go towards reversing the recession. But the politicians are too stupid and power-hungry to do it. What makes them even stupider is that a MJ revolution could help them kick the can down the road, which is what they want, and they’re too retarded to see it. It’s retards all the way down.

      1. It’s already the biggest cash crop in the US in terms of revenue.

      2. Remember that they would have to be up against the pharmaceutical, plastics, cotton, and lumber lobby. Stopping all our wars (WOD included) would probably end the recession. Along with a new crop-hemp, which could replace wastefully turning food into fuel.

  5. Chuck Schumer 2020:
    “…that’s why I am introducing legisaltion to ban these deadly tobacco laced joints!”

    1. Lets just hope he’s dead long before 2020

  6. The problem is nowadays it’s so hard just to get an issue up for vote on the Federal level that any attempts to legalize/regulate are shot down before they have the chance. We all know that MJ is safer than the caffeine you had in your coffee this morning and the alcohol in your drink at the end of the day, so why is it we have the choice to use those and not MJ? Let the people decide what goes into their own bodies, and make them a criminal the moment they commit a criminal act (stealing, vandalism, violence). Why is this so hard people? If you don’t want to use MJ, don’t! Nobody is forcing you! Keep it out of the hands of criminals who don’t mind selling to kids, and give the choice to the same people who have the choice to drink or not. How many alcohol “dealers” are there nowadays, that used to be illegal. I feel like nobody is using common sense on this issue.

    1. “I feel like nobody is using common sense on this issue.”

      Well a few people are.

      “How many alcohol “dealers” are there nowadays”?

      Lots. They’re called “liquor stores”. There is nothing inherently bad about being a drug dealer.

    2. The problem is nowadays it’s so hard just to get an issue up for vote on the Federal level that any attempts to legalize/regulate are shot down before they have the chance.

      That’s the purpose of committees. They allow good legislation to be killed without the embarrassment of actually voting against it. Just never let it out of committee and you never have to go on record for opposing it.

  7. These findings are similar to those of a CBS News poll conducted last November, except that poll found even stronger federalist preferences among Republicans, 65 percent of whom said states should determine whether marijuana is legal within their borders, compared to 55 percent of Democrats, even though Democrats were more likely to say pot should be legal (51 percent vs. 27 percent).

    “I like pot, but I’ll be damned if those states’ rights loving teabaggers pull a fast one on me.”

    …?!?!?!

    1. This is most definitely a big part of the opposition at Justice and in the administration.

      I mean, once you let the States start doing what they want with pot, where will it all end? They are scared to death of setting a precedent for olde schoole federalism and devolution, make no mistake.

  8. Legalization of marijuana is a good idea, but we can’t do it because we have an immigration problem! We have millions of illegal immigrants who will just get high if we legalize pot. It would create a culture of immigrant stoners that would elect Democrats. Legalizing marijuana is coercive!

    [\sarcasm]

    1. I guarantee there are morons out there that think this. Probably the same morons who think that keeping weed illegal is for teh childrenz. Marijuana was going around my schools before alcohol.

    2. Perfect analogy since, for example, I will have to provide insurance, minimum wage, public accommodation, retirement benefits, and pay FICA taxes on newly-legalized marijuana.

      Wait a second, it’s almost like there’s a completely different set of consequences in one case than the other.

      Nah, couldn’t be. Any consideration of an issue with more depth than can fit on a bumper sticker is WASIS!

  9. ” President Obama has said there are no plans to go after pot smokers, which the federal government almost never does anyway, but he has not said how state-licensed suppliers will be treated.”

    We’ll arrest you based on the whims of apparatchiks.

  10. I’m glad MJ is becoming more legal, but what’s with this “small amounts” crap? I can walk down the street with a beer in my hand, or load up the truck with half a dozen kegs. Why should I get busted for owning a substance that is perfectly legal, just because I have a lot of it?

    1. At the moment it’s the hysteria that people might sell it to each other outside of proper channels. Remember that home distilling is still illegal as well – for the same reason. If it is more broadly legalized and becomes a corporate money machine (which is the most tantalizing prospect of legalization for me, as I literally cannot wait until all of the quasi-hippie, anti-corporate stoner idiots have to buy their pot from the marijuana equivalent of Phillip Morris), I think you’ll start seeing quantity restrictions relaxed.

    2. An open container? Where do you live? You can, however, walk down the street drinking a beer (or a bottle of whiskey) in COMMUNIST CHINA!

      1. And those evil dictators allow people to SMOKE IN RESTAURANTS AND BARS! The horror!

  11. I think everybody now should be one step ahead from this legalization topic of Marijuana or else laws of growing marijuana. As marijuana is now legalized in many states around the world.so shall expect to post something apart from the legalization topics.

    http://bigbudsmag.com/grow/art…..r-cannabis

  12. Why such a big fuss over a plant? Check out hashoutloud.com for more cannabis news.

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