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February 7, 2012

"Legal Recreational Marijuana: Not So Far Out"

The title of this post is the headline of this new Time magazine piece by Adam Cohen.  Here is how it starts and concludes:

The drive to legalize marijuana has long been a fringe cause, associated with hard-core libertarians and college-age stoners.  But it could go mainstream in a big way in this November’s election, when Washington could become the first state to legalize recreational pot use.  If it does — or if voters in any of several other states do — this year could be a turning point in the nation’s treatment of marijuana.

The idea that a majority of voters could support legalizing marijuana may seem far out — but the polls say otherwise.  In many states, the prolegalization and antilegalization camps are roughly equal in size.  In a poll of Washington state voters released last month, supporters of the legalization referendum outnumbered opponents: 48% vs. 45%.  And Washington probably won’t be the only state voting on marijuana this year.  In Colorado, supporters last week fell about 3,000 signatures short of getting a legalization measure on the ballot — but the law gave them 15 days to collect the rest, and it seems likely they will. Activists are also collecting signatures in other states, including California, Michigan and Montana....

It is hard to handicap this year’s voting, but one possibility is this: marijuana legalization could lose in Washington and Colorado in November, but recreational use could nonetheless be headed toward legalization in many states in the not-too-distant future. Support for legalization has been rising steadily, from just 12% in 1970 to 31% in 2001 to 50% today, with young people (ages 18-29) the most in favor (62%) and older people (ages 50-64) the least (49%).

In strictly political terms, this is a powerful combination: fast-growing support and solid majorities among the young, who represent where the electorate is headed.  (Support for gay marriage polls similarly — which is why it is becoming law in more states.)  In a few years, the national discussion may well turn from whether to legalize marijuana to how to do it in the most prudent way.

February 7, 2012 at 09:14 AM | Permalink


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With alcohol being legal and the general behavior associated with drinking, it seems hard to argue against medical marijuana. Strict laws and punishments will need to be in place to limit how "recreational" the smoking is. However, DUI's do cover the influence of other drugs and not just alcohol, so maybe just a few modifications to existing laws.

Posted by: Charlie Naegle | Feb 7, 2012 12:44:32 PM

It seems hard to argue that marijuana not be treated like alcohol.

Posted by: beth | Feb 7, 2012 2:37:37 PM

The best argument against legalization, and one that I NEVER hear made, is that it is impracticable to meaningfully enforce DWI laws. Unlike alcohol, the level of marijuana in the body is not a reliable proxy for intoxication.

Now, personally, I say fuck it. Marijuana is safer than alcohol, and studies shown it to be much safer to drive on than alcohol. (I attest to the latter personally).

Posted by: Alex | Feb 7, 2012 8:31:13 PM

The people want it. Michigan's repeal possibilities depend on volunteer petitioners (and donations from inside the United States). Take a look at our website and donate or volunteer to help. www.repealtoday.org

By the way, I am a criminal defense attorney, marijuana lawyer, Executive Director of Michigan NORML, and Director of the Committee for a Safer Michigan, the sponsor of the Constitutional Amendment petition drive to repeal marijuana prohibition in Michigan for adults 21 and over.

Posted by: Matthew Abel | Feb 8, 2012 1:00:16 AM

Right now in USA lots of peoples want to legalize the Marijuana, people are protesting hard in front of government but authorities does not want legalize it.

Posted by: askacriminalsolicitor.com | Feb 8, 2012 6:00:04 AM

It is disappointing to see that so many people desire their own freedom taken away. The government's original purpose was to protect the people and to serve the people. Now everyone has it in their head that the government has the right to regulate our very personal lives and more.

So long as a person is not creating harm or a harmful situation on another person, the government has no right to interfere. If someone wants to use drugs, that is their right by freedom of choice. Just because someone has the potential to cause harm on another person while under drugs, does not give anyone the right to forbid it. A big contradiction is alcohol. Many people bring up alcohol in the arguments of legalizing marijuana and rightly so. Alcohol gives people the potential to cause harm to others, but it is legal to consume it because it is our god given right to do to our own bodies as we choose.

I am a college student at the University of Idaho. I am also a responsible recreational marijuana smoker. "Responsible" meaning, I do not use vehicles, heavy machinery, or participate in anything that would cause harm to another person while under the influence.

Posted by: Marcus Hall | Apr 16, 2012 6:28:39 PM

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