A new study shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want the federal government to stay out of state-level affairs associated with changes in marijuana law.
The survey found Americans split on the question of full legalization, with 50 percent supporting versus 47 percent opposed. However, the poll did find that six in ten respondents said that states, not the federal government, should decide whether to make marijuana legal. Moreover, 67 percent of Americans said Congress should go further and specifically carve out an exemption to federal marijuana laws for states that legalize, so long as they have a strong regulatory system in place.
How this would work for marijuana is detailed in an exhaustive forthcoming study in the UCLA Law Review. In short, Congress could allow states to opt out of the Controlled Substances Act provisions relating to marijuana, provided they comply with regulatory guidelines issued by the Department of Justice.
This is already the de-facto federal policy toward Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, although it cannot become a formal policy without an act of Congress. Third Way heartily endorses this approach, as it represents a “third way” between the current policy of outright prohibition, and the full legalization route favored by marijuana reform activists.
It is time for Congress to get out of the way and let states determine what marijuana policies work best for them.
A petition aimed at allowing the adult use of marijuana in Nevada has met its signature requirements and will be submitted to the 2015 state legislature.
According to The Washington Post:
Supporters of the measure to make marijuana legal in Nevada turned in 138,453 valid signatures, according to the Secretary of State Ross Miller’s (D) office, far above the approximately 100,000 valid signatures necessary to qualify an initiative.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal provided a good rundown on where it will go from here:
The state legislature has 40 days to act on the measure. If lawmakers pass it and the governor signs it, the measure becomes law. If the legislature does nothing or the governor does not sign the measure, the initiatives will go on the ballot for voters to decide in 2016.
Furthermore, if lawmakers amend the measure, both the original version and the amended version would go on the ballot. If the initiative passes with more than 50 percent of the vote, the one with the larger number of “yes” votes become law.
According to The Washington Post:
A University of Wyoming poll, which included 768 residents statewide, found 72 percent of the respondents to support marijuana use if it is recommended by a physician, while only 25 percent oppose it.
However, only 35 percent of the survey respondents favor legal, recreational use of the substance, while 60 percent are opposed to it.
Survey responses concerning recreational marijuana show a modest increase supporting adult marijuana use and consistency on the issue of medical marijuana use, said Jim King, University of Wyoming professor of political science and co-director of the survey.
“Our 2000 poll showed 23 percent approving legalization of marijuana in general, so, there has been a bit of a shift in public opinion on this aspect of the marijuana debate,” King stated. “On the other hand, the 2000 and 2014 surveys have the same proportion of Wyoming residents, 72 percent, accepting medical marijuana use.”
Although Wyoming residents do not support legalization of marijuana for personal use, they accept reduced penalties for those apprehended in possession of marijuana. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, 62 percent, believe the penalty for marijuana possession should not include time in jail; 32 percent support jail sentences.
At the very least, a large portion of survey respondents have demonstrated their support for making medical marijuana legal, as well as reducing the criminal penalties associated with the possession of marijuana. As more and more states continue to adopt sensible marijuana policies, it seems likely that public opinion will continue to shift in a direction towards increased support for the adult use of marijuana.
As reported by The Washington Post, the Marijuana Policy Project, in partnership with marijuana industry leader Medbox, Inc., is now launching a $75,000 public education campaign to counter what communications director, Mason Tvert, describes as decades of “exaggeration, fear mongering, and condescension.” The campaign will launch at noon in Denver, Colorado in front of a billboard aimed at tourists.
The outdoor ad reads, “Don’t let a candy bar ruin your vacation. With edibles, start low and go slow.”
The ad is an allusion to the case of Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist who got sick from eating a marijuana edible on a visit to Denver to cover the topic of marijuana.
Ensuring the safe use of edible marijuana products has proven troublesome in Colorado since legal sales began in January. Many people have more experience smoking marijuana than consuming it in edible form, and because the effects have a slower onset with edibles, it is harder for inexperienced users to self-regulate. The headlines ridiculing legal pot advocates, as well as Dowd’s experience, have been enough for the industry to promote moderation with edible pot forms.
“So far, every campaign designed to educate the public about marijuana has relied on fear mongering and insulting marijuana users. Like most Americans, Ms. Dowd has probably seen countless silly anti-marijuana ads on TV, but she has never seen one that highlights the need to ‘start low and go slow’ when choosing to consume marijuana edibles,” Tvert stated.
The campaign will begin in Colorado, featuring print ads, online ads, and literature to be distributed at retail locations urging responsible consumption and directing people to ConsumeResponsibly.org, which is patterned after the alcohol industry’s “Drink Responsibly” campaign. It will present information about products, laws, and the effects of marijuana. The campaign will eventually expand to Washington, where marijuana is also legally taxed and regulated.