Americans’ support for marijuana legalization is at a record high.
With cannabis already legal in several US states, a recent Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans are saying its use should be made legal. The poll also found, that for the first time, a majority of Republicans also support marijuana legalization – by 51 percent.
Fred Smoller, a political science professor at Chapman University in Orange, California, attributes the numbers to the generation polled.
“Woodstock,” he said. “That generation [baby boomers]… it’s a cohort, they’ve always viewed marijuana differently than the people before them. … They grew up laughing at ‘Reefer Madness.’”
He said while some attitudes might have changed regarding marijuana, the difference lies in the demographic.
According to a Gallup news article, Gallup first asked adults nationally about their views on marijuana in 1969, when only 12 percent were in support of legalization.
In the recent study, results are based on phone interviews conducted Oct. 5, 2017, to Oct. 11, 2017, of a random sample of 1,028 adults 18 and older from all 50 US states and Washington, DC.
Whether this increase in marijuana legalization support will soon lead to federal legalization remains to be seen. Smoller doesn’t think so.
“No,” he said. “The laws will remain on the books but won’t be enforced. This allows electeds to appeal to different groups. It’s kinda like [former President Bill]Clinton saying he smoked pot but didn’t inhale.”
On the political level, there is a steady stream of activity in regard to the topic of marijuana.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on April 20, 2018, his support for decriminalizing marijuana federally and his plans to introduce new legislation in the Senate, according to a press release on his website.
“The time has come to decriminalize marijuana,” Schumer said in the statement. “My thinking – as well as the general population’s views – on the issue has evolved, and so I believe there’s no better time than the present to get this done. It’s simply the right thing to do. This legislation would let the states be the laboratories that they should be, ensure that woman and minority owned business have a fair shot in the marijuana industry, invests in critical research on THC, and ensures that advertisers can’t target children – it’s a balanced approach.”
In an April 16, 2018, press release on his website, California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was said to be preparing stand-alone legislation called the Cannabis States’ Rights Act, which would permanently restrain federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states that have legalized it.
“This is a fundamental issue of federalism and freedom, as state after state moves to take marijuana out of the hands of the cartels and place it in a competitive market where consumers can be assured of product safety,” Rohrabacher said in the statement. “It also encourages more exploration of medical uses for cannabis, which has shown unquestionable promise in the treatment of multiple ailments and disorders.”
But the support in the direction of marijuana legalization clearly isn’t unanimous.
The Department of Justice on Jan. 4 issued a memo on federal marijuana enforcement policy, returning to the rule of law that deems it a controlled substance and enforces it as such, according to a press release on the Justice Department website.
“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”