Legalizing marijuana is one of the least polarizing issues in America! This statement was made by Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s long-running political talk show, Meet the Press, (aired on January 7, 2018). This finding comes as the Trump Administration has rescinded an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from pursuing charges against marijuana users in states that have legalized the drug. Federal prosecutors can now use their own discretion to crack down on illegal marijuana activities.
This finding also comes as the State of California began permitting the sale of recreational marijuana on January 1st. California joins seven (7) other states that allow one to grow, buy and/or sell cannabis for recreational use. Who supports the legalization of marijuana? According to a Gallup Poll (October 5-11, 2017, +/- 4%):
Democrats – 72%
Independents – 67%
Republicans – 51%
Most notable for the above stats is that Republican voters who support the legalization of marijuana reached the majority level for the first time in 2017.
In addition to the above, Gallup data shows a continuing increase in support for legalization over the past several decades, with half or more generally favoring it since 2011. Based on the most recent survey, the chart below shows that Americans’ support for legalizing marijuana is at a record high of 64% in Gallup’s October 2016 update:
Recent moves by the Trump Administration to rescind the Obama Administration’s hands-off approach and crack down on states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use would be out of sync with public opinion.
The objective of this post is not to argue for or against legalizing marijuana, but to point out gross disparities and inequities in the current federal and state laws. These disparities have been building for a while along with the rising line of support in the chart above. My sentiments lie with that of panelist Joy Reid, host of MSNBC’s AM Joy, who stated that the war on drugs, particularly the war on weed, has disproportionately destroyed the lives of Latino and Black men. It is these very same individuals who have been thrown into jail for selling cannabis on federal charges, and on their release, can’t get a license to sell it legally within those states that allow it.
So, what’s up with that?
The folks at Gallup also note that this potential crackdown could put at risk the future of the commercial marijuana industry, which is projected to exceed $20 billion by 2021. However, as another panelist, David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times notes: Those who argue against legalizing marijuana say there are 9 million men outside of the labor force who can’t get a job because they can’t pass a urine test; for those guys the prevalence of weed is a problem.
Once again, legalizing marijuana is one of the least polarizing issues in America and 64% of Americans support doing so.
- Meet the Press, hosted by Chuck Todd, S70 E701501/07/18, https://www.nbc.com/meet-the-press/video/meet-the-press-january-7-2017/3645730
- Marijuana Legalization, by R. J. Reinhart, in Gallup News, Social Issues, January 4, 2018, http://news.gallup.com/poll/225017/news-marijuana-legalization.aspx?g_source=MARIJUANA&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles