Only Six Percent of Americans Think Marijuana Possession Should Be Punished With Jail Time


Only six percent of Americans think minor marijuana possession should be punishable by jail time, according to a new Reason-Rupe poll. The poll also found that a strong plurality of Americans think the use or possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be punishable at all.

When asked, "Which approach do you think government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana?", six percent of respondents said possession should be punishable with jail, 20 percent said it should result in mandatory substance abuse counseling, 32 percent said users should incur a fine, and 35 percent of respondents said people caught with small amounts of marijuana should not be punished at all.

The Reason-Rupe poll is one of the few instances–possibly the first–in which the usual polling dichotomies of incarceration v. treatment and criminal penalty v. civil penalty have been expanded to include no penalty whatsoever. The results suggest that Americans are comfortable with the idea of decriminalization–which reduces the penalty for minor marijuana possession to a civil fine–and more sympathetic than ever to the idea of fully legalizing possession. 

In addition, the Reason-Rupe nationwide telephone poll of 1,003 people found that a majority of Americans say they would support legislation from Congress that would "prevent the federal government from prosecuting people who grow, possess, or sell marijuana in the states that have legalized it." Fifty-two percent of poll respondents said they would support such protections for both medical and recreational marijuana regimes even though the drug remains illegal under federal law, while 42 percent said they would oppose legislating such protections.

Incidentally, just such a piece of legislation–the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act–was introduced in April by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.).

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  1. Please don’t make prosecutors pile on other tangential charges just to get to that jail-worthy place.

  2. Remind me again what percentage of Americans was in favor of TARP?

  3. Good thing we’re not a democracy and public will is irrelevant. We have a god-given right to be punished for possession of marijuana. It says so right there in the constitution in my head.

    1. Er… what? This post made even less sense than usual. You realize that it’s your expansive reading of the Constitution that enables this sort of shit, right?

      1. He’s really just gone completely nuts lately. He now seems to be under the impression that libertarians support the War on (some) Drugs.

    2. I sense a bit of sarcasm in your post..LOL

  4. Meanwhile, as has been reported here, the NHTSA is attempting to hugely expand the definition of, and punishments for, driving under the influence of alcohol. Because government bureaucrats and law enforcement agents couldn’t give a fuck less what the American people (the host body which supports their parasitism) actually want.

    1. “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”
      –Sir Ernest John Pickstone Benn

  5. And what percentage of arrests for possession of a minor amount of marijuana result in jail time? It might help to sway that hold-out
    six percent if it could be shown someone’s life was ruined because he
    was caught holding a joint as it was passed around the Choom Gang.

    1. The answer to our question lies in your definition of ‘jail time’.

      750,000 Americans per year are arrested for marijuana (90% for simple possession) and they are kept in jail until they are bailed out.

      1. I guess we should redefine as “prison-time”. So, how many people are sentenced to prison-time each year based on simple possession?

        Of course decriminalizing possession without decriminalizing the supply chain requires some cognitive dissonance.

        1. Profit is evil dude. Liberals want pot legal, but only if it is homegrown, or perhaps produced by coops or small local farmers.

          The idea of Altria or Archer Daniels Midland growing cannabis is terrifying to them.

        2. I think that most sentences of less than a year are served in jails, not prisons. But anyway, I get your point. And very few people do time for pot possession.

        3. decriminalizing possession without decriminalizing the supply chain requires some cognitive dissonance.

          Not much more so than for lawn darts. It’s very common for the sale, but not possession, of something to be illegal. So it’s only a little stretch to have sale be criminal and possession be illegal but not criminal.

    2. You cannot sway that 6%. They are comprised of hardcore drug warriors and prison unions. Worry about the 50% saying fines or (even more frighteningly) mandatory substance counseling.

  6. I would prefer to see Law Enforcement return to the kinder days of yore, where underage possession of alcohol involved pouring out the beverage and sending the miscreants home.
    Simply dump the bag out into the wind and send them home (if sober).

  7. Time to step it up a notch. We in the canna community have bore the brunt of brutal actions by the ignorant bigoted sociopathic prohibitionist community long enough. I believe the time has come for us to become militant in securing our rights. Prohibitionists must come to realize that they now have their own flesh on the table, this as impetus for them to rethink their positions and come to respect our rights. If they should choose to remain ignorant and bigoted and to impose their punitive measures against us they must come to understand there will be an awful price to pay for their thoughtlessness, their bigotry and their evil spirit.

    Declaration of Rights of Cannabis Users (Google it)

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