Three out of five Virginians surveyed support removing criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of pot and three out of four back medical marijuana use for seriously or terminally ill patients, according to a survey released Tuesday by an advocacy group.
Forty-nine percent polled support legalizing marijuana for adults
“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”
The survey by Public Policy Polling found that 60 percent of voters questioned say the criminal penalties for possession of up an an ounce should be replaced with a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. The offense currently is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
The Virginia Senate this year is to consider making personal possession punishable only by a civil fine of $100.
Seventy-four percent of those polled backed the medical marijuana use for seriously and terminally ill patients. Sixty-four percent said they would be more likely to vote for a legislator who supported the change.
Virginia Poll Shows Strong Support for Marijuana Policy Reform
Bill to Reduce Penalties for Possession Filed in Texas
At a press conference held today and hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, State Representative Joe Moody announced the details of his new bill to stop branding Texans as criminals for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana.
Many members of our coalition, including Texas District Court Judge John Delaney, the ACLU of Texas, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, and the Marijuana Policy Project, joined him for the big announcement.
“Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn’t working,” Rep. Moody said. “We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources. This legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction.”
More than 60% of Texas voters support limiting the punishment for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a fine of $100 with no possibility of jail time, according to a September 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Now is the time to contact your state legislators. They cannot represent you if they don’t know about your support for this bill! If you are a Texas resident, click here to send an email now. Then, spread the news to your friends and family, so that they, too, can speak out to support more humane and sensible marijuana policies.
Coloradans Still Support Legal Marijuana Sales, Poll Finds
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.
Over Two-Thirds of Delaware Voters Support Marijuana Policy Reform
Recent polling released by the Marijuana Policy Project found more than two-thirds of Delawareans support replacing criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a $100 civil fine. The poll also found a majority of voters (51%) support making marijuana legal for adults, and regulating and taxing it like alcohol.
Under current Delaware law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and fined up to $1,150. Additionally, a conviction or even an arrest record can make it difficult to find a job, obtain educational opportunities, or even find adequate housing.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail for possession of marijuana, including Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is now legal for adults 21 and older. Twelve other states are currently considering legislation to reduce penalties to a fine. Measures similar to those adopted in Colorado and Washington, which regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, have been or will be introduced this year in 18 state legislatures plus the District of Columbia Council. In addition, one has been placed on the August ballot in Alaska.
Rhode Island Poll Finds Strong Support for Ending Marijuana Prohibition
Earlier today, MPP released a new poll finding that a clear majority of Rhode Islanders support “changing Rhode Island law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.” Fifty-three percent of Rhode Island voters favor marijuana policies similar to those in Colorado, where adults 21 and over can purchase marijuana from regulated stores; only 41% oppose this policy change. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please take a brief moment to call both your state representative and your state senator and ask them to support ending marijuana prohibition in 2014.
Over the past couple of years, it’s become apparent that marijuana prohibition is coming to an end. It is no longer a question of if Rhode Island will legalize marijuana for adults and regulate it like alcohol, but when. Passing legislation this session will allow the state to begin creating hundreds of much-needed jobs and realizing tens of millions in annual tax revenue. With the state facing a $150 million budget hole and Rhode Island having the highest unemployment rate in the nation, let your lawmakers know now is the time to end marijuana prohibition in the Ocean State.
Despite Increased Support, West Virginia Legislators Drop Medical Marijuana Study
A new poll was released Monday showing increased support for allowing medical marijuana in West Virginia. The poll, which was commissioned by MPP and conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 56% of Mountain State residents support passing a medical marijuana law (up from 53% last January), and only 34% oppose laws that would allow patients to obtain and use medical marijuana (down from 40%). Results are available here.
If you live in West Virginia, share these poll results with your state legislators today!
The West Virginia Legislature begins its 2014 general session Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Joint Committee on Health decided to conclude its offseason study without voting on the medical marijuana issue. It appears that, for political reasons, passing a medical marijuana law may be a difficult goal to achieve in an election year such as 2014. With elections coming up later this year, it is particularly important that legislators hear from you and other supporters today. They need to understand that public opinion has dramatically changed, and that most West Virginians support allowing patients to have safe, legal access to medical marijuana.
Majority of Texans Support Taxing and Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol
A poll conducted at the end of September shows that 58% of Texas voters favor taxing and regulating marijuana in their state. Texas currently does not allow marijuana, either recreationally or for medical uses. In fact, an adult faces up to a year of jail time and a $2,000 fine for possession of even small amounts of marijuana. Despite the harsh current policy, 61% of Texans supported removing criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and implementing a $100 fine instead. Only 30% of those polled said they were against removing the criminal penalties, and remarkably only 38% said they would oppose a measure to tax and regulate marijuana.
Removing the threat of arrest could be a momentous change for the nearly 1.5 million adult marijuana users living in Texas, where 68,758 adults were arrested for simple marijuana possession in 2007 alone. It is estimated that in 2006, Texas spent over $655 million on marijuana arrests, yet marijuana use continues to increase.
Rob Kampia, part-time Texas resident and MPP executive director, commented on the poll:
Marijuana prohibition has been just as big a failure as alcohol prohibition. Most Texans agree that marijuana sales should be conducted by legitimate businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market.
Law enforcement officials’ time would be better spent addressing violent crimes instead of adults simply possessing marijuana. No adult should face potentially life-altering criminal penalties for using a product that is significantly less harmful than alcohol.
You can read the full results of the poll here.
Marylanders Ready to Tax and Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
A new poll jointly commissioned by MPP and the ACLU of Maryland shows that a majority of Marylanders support legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol! If you live in Maryland, please let your legislators know that you are among the 53% of voters who believe adults should be allowed to use a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol.
In 2014, representatives in Annapolis will be considering several bills that propose a more sensible approach to marijuana policies. Voters are fully behind all of these reforms. In addition to showing majority support for making marijuana legal, our poll also found that 68% of Marylanders support a civil penalty for the simple possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. This is up 11 percentage points since our poll just two years ago!
Replacing jail time with a fine — or no penalty — would free up police, prosecutor, and court resources to focus on serious crimes. In 2011, there were 24,298 arrests in Maryland for marijuana, 90% of which were for mere possession! Legislators need to know what their constituents know – that is time to stop arresting adults for the possession of a substance that about half of all Americans have used.
Vermont Decriminalization Bill Heads to Senate Floor
Yesterday, in a 4-1 vote, Vermont’s Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve a bill that would reduce penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Under H. 200, which has already passed the House, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana would become a civil offense punishable by a fine rather than a criminal misdemeanor.
H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to undergo substance abuse screening. Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for a subsequent offense.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Vermont voters support removing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replacing them with a civil fine, according to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in February 2012.
Senators will soon be voting on this bill. If you live in Vermont, click here to send them one last message of support!
Poll: 75% of DC Voters Want Marijuana Decriminalized
Three out of four Washington, D.C. voters would support changing District law to replace criminal penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket, according to a survey conducted last week by Public Policy Polling. Two-thirds (67%) said they believe law enforcement resources currently being used by District police to arrest individuals for marijuana possession should be directed toward other crimes.
The poll also found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of District voters would support a ballot measure similar to those approved by voters in Colorado and Washington in November, which made marijuana legal for adults and directed state officials to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. A solid majority (54%) said drug use should be treated as a public health issue, and people should no longer be arrested and locked up for possession of a small amount of any drug for personal use.
The survey of 1,621 randomly selected District voters was conducted April 10-11. The full results and crosstabs are available at http://www.mpp.org/DCpoll.