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May 23, 2012

Latest polling indicates legalization of marijuana now has strong majority support

As reported in this new Christian Science Monitor article, which is headlined "Poll shows strong support for legal marijuana: Is it inevitable?," the latest (contested) polling data on marijuana policy suggests ever growing support for legalization. Here are excerpts from the piece discussing the poll results and its implications:

A new national poll shows a clear majority of Americans in favor of legalizing and regulating marijuana – "the strongest support ever recorded," according to one pro-marijuana activist.

The Rasmussen poll found that 56 percent of respondents favored legalizing and regulating marijuana similar to the way alcohol and tobacco cigarettes are currently regulated. Thirty-six percent were opposed.

Critics have dismissed the survey, saying its questions were asked in a particularly leading fashion – a charge that Rasmussen contests. But experts who track the issue say the poll is consistent with the overall trend of steadily rising acceptance of marijuana use.

Despite California’s failure to pass Proposition 19 in 2010 – which would have legalized recreational use – some state may legalize marijuana soon, perhaps as early as this November, says Robert MacCoun, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, who follows marijuana laws. That means it is time to consider shifting the debate from legalization to consideration of how it should be done, he adds....

Anti-marijuana groups say those questions are premature. If Rasmussen had put facts in the question’s premises, the outcome would have been the opposite, they say. “If they had asked, ‘If you knew that a majority of homicide convicts in New York had smoked marijuana within 24 hours of their convictions, would you be in favor of legalizing it?’ they would have gotten a far different answer,” says David Evans, special adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation. “These questions are so biased and leading, it’s embarrassing.”

He cites Question 10: “As long as they don’t do anything to harm others, should individuals have the right to put whatever drugs or medication they want into their own bodies?”

“This is a clearly very biased finding," he says. "They’ve asked leading questions to get the responses they wanted.”...

Pro-marijuana groups are using the findings to argue that the Obama administration’s raids on state medical marijuana dispensaries are not in concert with the public’s wishes, and that politicians who don’t support further relaxation of penalties are behind the times....

Other supporters of a more liberal US drug policy also seized on the poll. They say this shows the drug war has failed, and that it’s time not only to ease up on social attitudes while bringing in much needed revenue for strapped government. "Polling now consistently shows that more voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana than support continuing a failed prohibition approach,” says Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "If the trends in public opinion continue in the direction they are going, the day is not far away when supporting a prohibition system that causes so much crime, violence, and corruption is going to be seen as a serious political liability for those seeking support from younger and independent voters."

The telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted May 12.

May 23, 2012 at 07:50 PM | Permalink

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LEAP (Law enforcement against prohibition)- Who would have ever thought that? Time to end the war on marijuana.

Posted by: Anon | May 23, 2012 11:29:00 PM

I thought Bill would be all over this topic?

Posted by: Anon | May 25, 2012 12:14:36 AM

Bill doesn't like facts that don't fit his authoritarian, cramped, Republican narrative.

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | May 25, 2012 2:44:25 PM

From Huffington Post:

Obama Pot-Smoking Details Revealed In David Maraniss Book

The Huffington Post | By Luke Johnson Posted: 05/25/2012 12:51 pm Updated: 05/25/2012 2:46 pm

The meticulous biographer David Maraniss revealed Barack Obama's early girlfriends in an excerpt published in Vanity Fair of his forthcoming biography, and now the Internet is seizing upon new details of the president smoking marijuana with his buddies at the Punahou School in Hawaii.

Politico's Playbook teased the following excerpt from "Barack Obama: The Story," which will be published in June but is already viewable on Google Books. "When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted 'Intercepted!' and took an extra hit," Maraniss writes. But Obama's buddies, who called themselves the "Choom Gang," didn't mind him messing up the rotation. (After all, this was Hawaii.)

That's not all. Maraniss writes that Obama was known for starting a trend called "TA," short for "total absorption."

"When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning "numbing tobacco") instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.

Maraniss also describes Obama's technique of "roof hits" while hot-boxing cars. "When the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling," he writes.

The fate of their dealer, Ray, was far more tragic than those of Obama and his largely privileged pals. In a scene that could've been in a Quentin Tarantino movie, a "scorned gay lover" later killed Ray with a ball-peen hammer.

Obama has been less than shy about his drug use in the past, writing about the topic in "Dreams from My Father." "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it," he writes in the memoir.

Obama's tone grows darker, and drugs are an escape for the young Obama, who is facing questions about his own identity:

Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. Except the highs hadn't been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was. Not by them, anyway. I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind, something that could flatten out the landscape of my heart, blur the edges of my memory. I had discovered that it didn't make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate's sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you'd met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl.

As Obama moved to higher stage, he's also been forthcoming about drug use. On Bill Clinton's personal triangulation that he had tried marijuana but "didn't inhale," Obama said smiling in 2006, "That was the point, wasn't it?"

Later in "Dreams from My Father," one of Obama's friends was arrested for drug possession and his mother, home from Indonesia, confronted him about it in his room, and he walked out.

The fun continued for Obama at Occidental College in Los Angeles, but he became much more serious after transferring to Columbia University after his sophomore year, when he lived, in his words, "like a monk."

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | May 25, 2012 3:52:14 PM

Anon --

"I thought Bill would be all over this topic?"

Why? I've been around too long to jump at a single outlier poll, which is what this is. Get back to me after a year of polling from other sources shows the same thing.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 25, 2012 4:55:30 PM

@Bill -- Gallup poll from last October shows marijuana legalization leading 50%-46%.

Posted by: Tom | May 25, 2012 6:23:41 PM

Tom --

And every other poll shows dope losing. See, e.g., the CBS poll (taken after Gallup), showing dope losing 51-40, and the CNN poll, also showing it losing, 56-41. Moreover, (a) 50% is not a majority, (b) the Gallup results were within the margin of error, and (c) when the question was put to actual voters in a very liberal state (rather than merely Rasmussen's "likely" voters), it lost 53.5% to 46.5% (this was Prop 19).

I repeat: The Rasmussen poll is an outlier.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 26, 2012 10:19:16 AM

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