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64 Percent Want The Federal Government To Let States Legalize Marijuana

Memo Pad Politics

64 Percent Want The Federal Government To Let States Legalize Marijuana


According to Gallup, 64 percent of Americans do not want the federal government to enforce federal drug laws in the states that have recently legalized marijuana for recreational consumption.

Even if Gallup hasn’t corrected the deficiencies in its polling that led it to predict Mitt Romney would win the popular vote, this still suggests a large majority of Americans want to let Washington and Colorado allow legal pot use.

The idea of the feds staying out of the states is much more popular than actual marijuana legalization, which 48 percent support while 50 percent oppose.

“States’ rights” has historically been used as an argument to deny people rights (or health care). But with two states legalizing marijuana by popular vote for the first time in U.S. history, the federal government may now be in the position of moving into a state to limit rights residents have voted to give themselves.

The Obama administration’s policy has been to target large-scale marijuana traffickers and not users. But this has still resulted in more raids on medical marjuana dispensaries than liberals expected.

The New York Times reports that the administration is considering a variety of legal actions against Colorado and Washington, from going after users — prompting a case that would prove the drug is still illegal — to filing lawsuits against the states, to denying federal grants.

If the president were to act against legalization, this would present a unique opportunity to Republicans who have long made the “states’ rights” argument but long opposed drug legalization. Marijuana is extremely popular with young voters who have rejected Republicans en masse.

If the GOP stood up for the states, they could seize the middle ground without supporting federal legalization. But this would require an agility rarely seen from the right these days.

Pot advocates have long argued that this is a winning issue for Democrats to forge even closer alliances with younger voters. “If marijuana becomes another partisan social issue, like gay marriage or abortion, it will make it even more difficult for Republicans to appeal to millennial voters,” wrote The New Republic‘s Nate Cohn.

However, the best the left can likely hope for from this administration is inaction. Why? Vice President Joe Biden is the man who coined the term “drug czar,” the post that was created to begin the so-called “War on Drugs.”

“The vice president has a special interest in this issue,” Kevin Sabet, who served the White House as a top adviser on marijuana policy, told Rolling Stone. “As long as he is vice president, we’re very far off from legalization being a reality.”

Yet the nascent politics of the 2016 presidential election could end up reshaping some perspectives on this issue, given the popularity state marijuana legalization seems to have with voters and with several states facing legalization votes in the near future.

Biden has suggested that he is considering a 2016 bid.

Meanwhile, former president Bill Clinton, husband of potential 2016 candidate and current secretary of state Hillary Clinton, made major news over the weekend speaking about military efforts in Colombia to eliminate serious drug use in America.

He said simply, “…it hasn’t worked.”

Whether these experiments in Washington and Colorado could lead to a broader rethinking of the drug war remains to be seen.

Photo credit: Hupu2 via Flickr.com





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  1. nobsartist December 10, 2012

    98% want a health care system that works but that does not matter.

    Good luck.

  2. Robert M December 11, 2012

    The law enforcement lobby is powerful and tenacious, were that not the case marijuana would not have become illegal in the first place. A major factor in marijuana prohibition was Harry Anslinger’s desire to keep his out of work alcohol cops on the payroll.

    By the sixties, pot had become a litmus test of modern and progressive and traditional and old fashioned. Used as a touchstone within the conservative community as much as communism and long hair, resistance to changing the laws to reflect the desires of people is a hold over, just like the desire to remove any and every last trace of the “New Deal”.

    Hemp is a valuable and useful crop. The economy would benefit just from commercial and industrial uses alone. That the tax revenue would also help regarding recreational use is a given. Why is marijuana still such a controversial subject? It is less harmful than alcohol, not fatal like nicotine yet the people who are the most strident pot prohibitionists are generally the largest consumers of both those drugs.

    Time to get some common sense back in to our government, stop persecuting pot and let’s just move on to more important things.

    1. Trina LC Sonnenberg December 11, 2012

      But we spend $3 billion on importing hemp from China. Think of all of the Chinese farmers that it would hurt if we went back to growing it ourselves.

      1. RobertCHastings December 11, 2012

        Hemp products are available in this country, and they are not taxed as controlled substances.

    2. dalnb December 11, 2012

      When your brother, sister, neigbbor best friend or whomever dies from a marijuana related incident or accident write back to us and let us know how where you then place marijuana on the list of important issues. Rather than turn our back on the high use of marijuana we should be tripling the fines for use, growing and distributing marijuana.

      1. jeff December 11, 2012

        When you can find a marijuana related death let me know! You don’t have to look far for tobacco and drinking related deaths and crimes,get you head out of the propaganda machine

      2. Riobound December 11, 2012

        Liquor related deaths FAR outnumber ANY other type of drug related incident or accident. And violent crimes are NOT associated with casual use of pot. The violence comes in between gangs arguing over territory. That would not exist once pot was legal.

        Your point is moot.

        1. RobertCHastings December 11, 2012

          It’s not only moot, it’s totally and absolutely untenable.

      3. RobertCHastings December 11, 2012

        Then we should also be further restricting access to alcohol and cigarettes, two things that cause, annually, many more deaths than marijuana. More deaths are caused through the illegal trafficking of marijuana than through its use, just as more deaths were caused through the trafficking of alcohol during Prohibition than were caused by alcohol’s consumption. Rather than further criminalization, it should be decriminalized, placed under government control, and, like alcohol and tobacco, taxed, so the proceeds go to local school districts. How much money, annually, is just thrown away on a war we know we are losing, and will continue to lose? Throw in the towel, and get with the program – decriminalize, control, and tax.

      4. Colin February 28, 2013

        I would assume you are trolling, but I hope you know that there has never been a death associated with marijuana when not used without other drugs. However, at least 79,000 people died from alcohol poisoning last year, and 443,000 died from tobacco use.

        1. dalnb February 28, 2013

          Could that have anything to do with the fact that Alcohol and tobacco use is legal in virtually every state , it can be purchased anywhere, can be displayed openly and used where not otherwise prohibited. None of that can be said about marijuana.

          Does that not make you think that just possibly legalizing marijuana may soon find similar numbers of deaths showing up? I suggest you look at the credibility of the numerous links to the use of marijuana; I could not find one that linked to any credible source. As a retired police officer I personally know of death and serious bodily injuries occurring due to being high on Marijuana; my brother being one.

          Until medical experts can show with 100% certainty that marijuana has no negative effect it should not be legalized. The United States is still paying off huge settlements associated with nuclear tests in the 50s and 60s that they thought they were handling okay. Look at the number of medicines prescribed everyday by qualified medical experts that turn out to be bad and the manufactures end up paying millions and millions of dollars to those who used the drugs thought safe if properly used. As it is most medical studies on the effect of long term use of marijuana shows significant medical problems. The same can be said about alcohol and tobacco. It makes no sense though to say just because we allow one then it should be okay to allow the other – that sounds like childish logic; well he did it so I can too!!

    3. onedonewong December 11, 2012

      Only the federal govt can legislate for or against drugs. So the States don’t have a voice just like Arizona and illegals. Time for Holder to start enforcing the law, Eric try and pretend that CA, OR and WA are red states rip for federal intervention

  3. Trina LC Sonnenberg December 11, 2012

    The DEA should go after harmful drugs like Cocaine and Meth. Oh yeah, cocaine is better for you than pot. I almost forgot. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug; marijuana is a Schedule I. Perhaps we should all start using cocaine.

  4. howa4x December 11, 2012

    The war on drugs ia an abject failure putting millions behind bars and ruining countless lives. Now it has become an industry with the privatization of prisons. Traded on wall st. Is this how we want to spend our money throwing kids in prisons? Another strong lobby against the legalization of MJ is the alcohol lobby. Here is a drug that is really dangerous. Alcohol addiction is seen as a disease and causes death by over consumption , vehicular accidents, and fatalities, spousal abuse, child endangerment, gun accidents and murder. Yet we sell it at ball games, events,bars. clubs, liqour stores and allow them to sponsor nascar, and the NFL. MJ on the other hand causes no fatalities, or injuries, not a factor in agression, or any negitive aspect associated with alcohol. It is actually medicinal in dealing wiht the side effects of cancer. The right wing used films like reefer maddness to scare people into not using it. It worked in the 50’s but not in the 60’s where millions smoked it including me on almost every college campus. I don’t know anyone that had any long term effects from smoking it. It is time to get sane about our drug policy. In countries in Europe they gave heroin away, with no real societal consequences. Gangs used the prohibition on drugs to get powerful and rich from the illegal distribution. Just like the Mafia did in the distribution of alcohol.We have a near civil war in Mexico because of it. We spend billions and haven’t even put a dent in the use. We have to get out of the puritanical mindset and face reality. People are going to use drugs no matter what laws are on the book, how may police there are out there, how much border enforcement we have, and how many religious figures say no to it’s use. It is just the way it is. So let’s all stop the hypocracy of allowing one drug(alcohol) and trying to stamp out every other one. Let each state and decide and allow the voters to express their will. This is what democracy is all about.

  5. dalnb December 11, 2012

    NO – – – Just Plain NO!!!!!
    I spent the majority of my life in law enforcement (with a collateral duty of Ambulance Driver) and I can not start to remember or guess how many young men and women I rushed to the hospital due to reactions, accidents and related incidents due to use of marijuana. I hear the argument that marijuana is no more harmful than alcoholic beverages BUT; how many people do we bury every year, send to the hospital and say sorry to the kids of parents lost due to alcohol? Until medical authorities can say with 100% certainty that marijuana is not harmful there can be no justification for legalizing it! The high cost of death and injuries on the roads, in the home and schools and the time spent in social services based on marijuana related incidents will far overshadow and tax income from legalized marijuana!

    1. Riobound December 11, 2012

      Kindly supply some links to “prove” your theory regarding pot.

  6. Claresa K Barnhisel December 11, 2012

    states’ rights !

  7. dalnb December 11, 2012

    Any question can get different resuslts based on how it is asked, under what circumstances and to who the question is being asked. Even how the question is asked can change the answer to the exat question.

    Polls such as these have no meaning and can never be trusted Listen to the questions during debats on various TV talk shows ; listen to the way questions are framed then ask yourself how it may have been reframed and how you migh have responded on the numerous ways it may have been asked! FOX is great at presenting questons that make answers come out the way they want them too. Questions that lead to answers that are easily twisted into the answer that supports the hosts objecitves.

    1. Riobound December 11, 2012

      YES! … Just plain, yes. Programs that police use within schools can be done with pot just like liquor. And the tax revenue will help state budgets as well. The DEA can then be disbanded and that money can be used in other social programs. On top of that fewer prisons will be needed. We already jail more people per capita than most other countries combined.

      But I also know that you are/were a cop so you could not see passed the obvious which is that keeping people out of jail is socially responsible as well.

      And when people cause an accident under the influence (liquor or pot) there are sufficient laws to deal with that.

      One last thing to note … people who use pot (addicted) are by far, less violent than people who use liquor (addicted).

      After the failure of Prohibition in the early 20th century people have FINALLY started to come to their senses that PROHIBITING something is a sure way to have the public WANT it!

      I’d rather see pot sold in a liquor store to people over the age of majority. These same folks will gladly pay the (no doubt) outrageous taxes that will be placed on pot. And those revenues will do some good for the states that they are in.

  8. RobertCHastings December 11, 2012

    Washington and Oregon have also enacted “right to die” laws, which allow a cogent adult with a terminal illness to seek the aid of a licensed physician to humanely end their lives. If the religious folks would get out of the way on this one, it is something most states would approve. I certainly want it where I live. My daughter, two years ago,wnet through cancer and chose the alternative to chemo and radiation, living for 2 months on increasing doses of pain medication. She intentionally chose this path because 1) her faith gave her the confidence in her knowledge of what the outcome, ultimately, would be and 2) she had previously been through chemo and knew what that was like. If our state had a humane euthanasia law, she could have died in comfort and with dignity, when she wanted and how she wanted.
    The current drug laws are, in many ways, similar. The controlled drugs are not all gateway or hard drugs. In fact, some of them, like LSD and Ecstacy, were developed by the federal government. For generations we have been told there are NO medical applications for marijuana, and there are no compounds in cannabis that have any medical value. This is a bold-faced lie for most of us, with a doctor’s prescription, have access to marinol, a MJ derivative used for pain. Marijuana is NOT a gateway drug, one virtually cannot overdose on it, and it is not addictive. And yet the war on drugs has made it illegal, leading to thousands of deaths since its illegalization, not from hospitalization, but to drug trafficking.
    We controlled alcohol, briefly, with the Volsted Act, until somebody wised up and realized the Federal government has no business legislating morality. We control tobacco and caffeine, both products which have distinct deleterious effects on the human body – tobacco with continued habitual use will kill, and caffeine leaches out valuable minerals like calcium and has other effects (just try withdrawing yourself from two to four cups a day). We have spent billions on the war on drugs, and, as you can see,have made such little progress that I didn’t even capitalize it. It has been a huge waste of money (at least the marijuana aspect of it), manpower, judicial time, and prison space.

  9. ABkr December 11, 2012

    Someone seems to be lisenting to the alley bunch rather than taking the dangers associated with marijuana (any improperly used drug) seriously!

    1. Riobound December 11, 2012

      Someone seems to be “fear-mongering” because change in social attitudes scares the hell out of you. Times change, even if you don’t.

      And any improperly used drug could include prescription drugs. This too has become a problem in some areas. But the VAST MAJORITY of prescription drugs are dispensed and used properly.

      Most adults do not need to be monitored. We just need reasonable laws which we will follow. You know, like not driving while intoxicated! It’s not only the right thing to do … It’s the Law. Adults can deal with that. And the ones that don’t, get caught whether it is pot or liquor intoxication.

  10. ABkr December 11, 2012

    So the argument is that by legalizing marijuaa law enfocrement officers will not have to spend so much time pursing violators! How much time will be spent in responding to accidents on the road, in the workplace, in schools and elsewhere. How much time will be spent by medical professionals and families as they handle to problems of overdoses and incidents with even minor indulgance? It is easy to find arguments supporting leagalization of mariuana – just ask anyone who uses it!

    From the way politicians are screwing up America I think many of them are using marijuana a bit too often!

    1. Riobound December 11, 2012

      Far, far less than what currently happens with liquor abuse. And NOBODY overdoses on pot. They fall asleep but not O.D.

      ” It is easy to find arguments supporting leagalization of mariuana – just ask anyone who uses it! ” And there were plenty of people during Prohibition who felt the same way. They were otherwise “law-abiding” citizens who just liked to drink.

      Kindly allow adults to consume moderately what they wish. As long as we are responsible for our own private usage (just like liquor) you need not worry. And we do NOT need you to act as our Nanny. Neither you nor the government need to “protect” us from ourselves.

      I invite the state and Federal Government to legalize, regulate and tax ALL drugs. Sell them as they do Liquor … And ONLY to adults over the age of 21 years.

      Your fear-mongering has not helped the problem. In fact, for decades it has only made the problem worse. It’s time for adults to take charge of our own lives without you “moralists” dictating what is right or wrong. The world works quite well with the liquor laws that are in place. The same WILL be true with pot.

  11. Ciara Gehringer December 12, 2012

    I was a highly paid RN who unexpectedly got hurt on the job. I have disabled with a spinal injury for 22 yrs. now. I am still young @ 66 yrs of age. I have no place to get extra $ or medical care now. I worked as a Critical Care nurse & many other roles during my career. I gave & gave & gave to those I cared for & now I have to suffer ? Do not cut Social Security, nor any medicare benefits !


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