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.
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.
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.
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.
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.