This week, we began airing a TV ad in Texas featuring Russell Jones, a retired narcotics detective and Texas Hill Country resident. Jones says that people under the influence of marijuana are much less problematic than people under the influence of alcohol, and that “law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time.” Its primary purpose: to urge lawmakers to support HB 507, which would reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession in the Lone Star State.
The Huffington Post reported that voters seem ready to make marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, according to a new poll that puts support for Initiative 71 at 65 percent.
On November 4, Washington, D.C. voters will make their decision on Initiative 71, which would legalize adult marijuana use, possession of up to two ounces, and home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use. The sale of marijuana, however, would still remain illegal under D.C. law.
The NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll’s finding that district voters support legalization by almost a 2-1 margin “is the highest support ever for a marijuana legalization ballot initiative,” Adam Eidinger, chair of D.C. Cannabis Campaign, the group backing the legalization measure, said in a statement. “It vindicates the work of this campaign so far, but we still have more work to do turning out the vote come Election Day.”
Even so, the new poll suggests that D.C. will be a leader in combating the racial disparity in marijuana enforcement by making the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana legal for adult residents.
“Voters are relating to the message that legalization will end D.C.’s rampant discrimination when it comes to marijuana enforcement,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
The D.C. City Council is considering a separate bill that would allow the regulation and taxation of marijuana. If and when that bill passes, the Marijuana Policy Project will be working with the D.C. Council and local advocates to develop a system of well-regulated retail sales.
According to the Huffington Post, the state of New York may see the regulation and taxation of marijuana for legal recreational use as early as 2015.
State Sen. Liz Krueger (D) will reintroduce the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act during the next legislative session, which begins in January. Sen. Krueger’s bill would allow the establishment of retail marijuana dispensaries, which would be regulated by the State Liquor Authority. The bill would also place an excise tax on all marijuana sales. Adults would legally be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use.
New York decriminalized the possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana over 30 years ago, and earlier this summer, became the 23rd state in the country to allow the legal use of medical marijuana. However, irrespective of these laws, New York, and especially New York City, remain plagued by a disproportionate number of low-level marijuana arrests amongst black and Latino communities.
In fact, since 2010, New York City has averaged between 30,000 and 50,000 marijuana arrests each year. Moreover, during the period between 2002 and 2012, 87 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession in the city were either black or Latino.
As stated by Krueger in an interview with Metro, “The real motivation for this bill comes from the fact that we have spent decades attempting to do prohibition and a war on drugs that has actually done nothing and is particularly ruining the lives of young people of color and having them go into the criminal justice system and come out with the kind of citations that limit their access to financial aid for college and exposes them to a criminal justice system that frankly I do not believe they should have been exposed to in the first place, for simply using a drug that is proved to be less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco.”
Although Krueger does not use marijuana herself, and does not encourage the use of marijuana to anyone else, she recognizes that marijuana prohibition is a failure.
“It is a win-win to decriminalize marijuana and regulate it and tax it.”
Since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, and after the historic first sales of recreational marijuana began in January 2014, a majority of state residents still support legal marijuana sales.
According to the Huffington Post, a new NBC News/Marist Poll demonstrates that 55 percent of adult Colorado residents back the law that made the regulated use, possession, and sale of marijuana by adults legal, as opposed to the 41 percent that do not support the law, including 8 percent who said they are actively trying to overturn the current legislation.
The majority that are supportive of the law includes the 27 percent of adult Coloradans who actively support the law, as well as the 28 percent who are in favor of the law but do not actively support it. Among registered voters, 52 percent said they favor the law, with 26 percent actively supporting it and 26 percent that favor but do not actively support it.
“This is just the latest of several polls that reflect the successful implementation of Amendment 64, “ said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project and key figure in the campaign to legalize marijuana. He went on to state, “Hopefully the folks fighting to maintain prohibition will stop using bogus talking points about Coloradans having buyer’s remorse. Nobody knows more about how Coloradans feel than Coloradans themselves, and clearly most of them are quite content with the direction in which things are headed.” [MPP emphasis added]
Moreover, other surveys have found similar levels of support regarding retail marijuana in the state. In February, for example, a Quinnipiac poll found that 58 percent of Colorado voters supported the legalization of marijuana. Another survey from March, conducted by Public Policy Polling, showed 57 percent of Colorado voters in favor of legal marijuana.
The success of Colorado’s implementation is paving the way for more states to follow in its footsteps. This November, Oregon and Alaska voters will be the next states to consider regulating marijuana like alcohol, and the District of Columbia will vote on making possession and limited home cultivation legal for adults.
MPP’s Executive Director, Rob Kampia, wrote an article for the Huffington Post this week discrediting three common myths about the marijuana lobby most often spread by prohibitionists.
It’s important for all of us to keep our eye on the prize by agreeing that marijuana should be legal for people 21 and older; we’ll put cartels and gangs out of business, and we’ll have reasonable restrictions on advertising.
None of this is new. Anyone who believes that alcohol should be legal should also agree that marijuana should be legal.
This is simple for most of us to understand. The only people who are trying to confuse it are those who are making profits from marijuana prohibition — international drug cartels and, unfortunately, so-called anti-drug nonprofit organizations in the U.S.