Gallup: Half of Americans Now Support Legalization of Marijuana

A new Gallup poll just released shows a record number of Americans want marijuana legalized — 50 percent of those polled. This comes days after the prestigious California Medical Association called for legalization and regulation of pot like alcohol. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration has continued the aggressive position of the prior Administration in raiding marijuana shops and prosecuting people for federal drug violations.

In 1969, Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana and only 12% of Americans favored it while 84% said that they were opposed. Support had risen to 40% in 2009 but this year it reached the tipping point.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2009 found that “16.7 million Americans aged 12 or older used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed.” Much like the prohibition period with alcohol, we have a crime that is openly violated with little enthusiasm for enforcement in many localities. There is a corrosive effect on a legal system when we criminalize acts that the majority do not view as “real” crimes. The question is whether we have reached the tipping point in reconsidering our approach and whether we should regulate (and tax) marijuana like alcohol — rather than continue to charge people with a crime that millions commit monthly. The fact that many people commit a crime does not necessarily deny the basis for a crime. However, as indicated by the California Medical Association’s decision, there remains considerable opposition from experts in both the legal and medical fields on the necessity of criminalization. Indeed, the potency of marijuana has increased after it was criminalized and it has served to funnel billions into gangs and drug cartels. It has also left millions with criminal records. One argument for legalization is to cut off this source of revenue for criminal gangs and better protect the public. It is doubtful that people will choose to buy mystery pot and more than “bathtub gin” once it is available from stores. The government could also regulate the potency and production of the drug as they do alcohol.

On the other hand, opponents question the wisdom of legalizing a drug given our current problems controlling drunk driving and argue that legalization will flood the country with cheap and available pot (increasing the experimentation among children). There is also the argument that this is a gateway drug and leads to more serious drug use. I have never really been convinced on the gateway argument but these are important issues to debate — particularly in the midst of a presidential campaign. The problem is that our current political system rarely moves discussion of such questions become sound bites and chest pounding. With Obama likely to oppose legalization to appeal to more conservative voters, it is a debate that is not likely to happen despite the 50% of Americans who want legalization.

The question is whether adults should now be allowed to make this decision and allow states to regulate its use.

What do you think?

23 thoughts on “Gallup: Half of Americans Now Support Legalization of Marijuana”

  1. pete,

    That’s what my drummer bud told me a couple weeks ago … I’ll have to tell him I found out he got the line from a comedian … the stinker …

  2. i saw a comedian making a joke of it, ron white i think, “in one state i’m a patient in another i’m a felon.”

  3. Mark,

    Did you bring enough for everyone? šŸ˜‰

    C. Everett Kook,

    It pains me when I don’t have joints… šŸ™

  4. Bette Noir: Iā€™d like to be able to legally grow some in my back yard, to see whether it helps with my arthritis

    marijuana affects people in different ways but it certainly helps with my joint (haha) pain and bad back.

  5. The only real question is, “who would make money from legalizing marijuana?”

    Since the answer is not a) large corporations, b) big pharma, or c) the oil industry, I’d say the chances of this poll impacting anything are about nil.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bowl to smoke.

  6. It’s almost like things are more acceptable to those who weren’t indoctrinated against them in their youth.

    The war against drugs is often a war against THOSE types…

  7. Elaine–Thanks for sharing that. Too funny.

    Legalize the medicinal use of MJ and be done with it already.
    Btw, did anyone on this list get a phone call from these folks? Nobody called me. No wonder the percentage is so low.

  8. I’d like to be able to legally grow some in my back yard, to see whether it helps with my arthritis. If it did, it’d save my insurance company $200/month in prescriptions. Maybe we should ask the insurance companies for help in this.

  9. “The fact that many people commit a crime does not necessarily deny the basis for a crime.”

    Even if that “many” can be substituted for millions? Now let’s talk about the “basis”.

    On the other hand, opponents question the wisdom of legalizing a drug given our current problems controlling drunk driving and argue that legalization will flood the country with cheap and available pot (increasing the experimentation among children).

    Seriously? These are both straw arguments, especially in the case of the latter supposition since cheap and available pot is already extant.

    There is also the argument that this is a gateway drug and leads to more serious drug use. I have never really been convinced on the gateway argument but these are important issues to debate….

    No they aren’t…the argument have been put forth for scores of years now and the propaganda from both law enforcement and the medical community has been exposed as fraudulent for nearly as long. The only real debate should be about whether or not we are going to continue to allow vested interests (both law enforcement and political) to reap huge financial rewards from an arcane and unjust set of laws that destroys lives. If marijuana is a gateway drug it is such only in the sense that it is a gateway to disrespect for the the law.

  10. Dear Mr. and Ms. State and Federal Legislator,

    This is it … the chance of a lifetime!

    A whole new industry is about to take off and you are in the catbird’s seat. Thousands upon thousands of marijuana growers, processors, manufacturers, distributors and retailers are going to be forming lobbies with billions of dollars in their pockets just waiting to pay you to pass legislation and regulations that will favor their interests. Now is your chance to get in on the ground-floor and really cleeean uuup.

    Go for it you weaseling, greedy, little bastards. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

  11. I am surprised that it is only half. I would have guessed the percentage to be closer to 70%. It is time to stop wasting resources on the criminalization of marijuana and get the tax money from legalizing the growing and sale of it.

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