New Survey: Most Americans Want to Legalize and Regulate Pot Like Alcohol and Tobacco
Most voters want marijuana to be legal, according to a new telephone survey of 1,000 Likely Voters. The survey found that 56% -- "a solid majority of voters nationwide" -- favor legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol and tobacco.
As AlterNet has pointed out, marijuana is much safer than alcohol and cigarrettes, but harsh pot laws may encourage some people who would otherwise get stoned to drink instead. Legalizing and regulating the plant may thus allow some people to make safer decisions without risking un-necessary legal consequences.
What's more, according to the survey (conducted by Ramussen Reports), most voters do not think it should be a crime to enjoy marijuana in the privacy of one's own home. Only 36% of voters -- a much smaller minority -- reportedly oppose legalizing and regulating marijuana like booze and cigarrettes.
A Colorado initiative to do exactly what we now know most voters support, "Regulate Like Marijuana Like Alcohol and Tobacco," made the ballot this winter, and voters will have the chance to turn their support for reform into real legislation this November. That same month, voters in Washington will determine whether similar legalization legislation becomes law in their state.
The survey is significant to recent conversations surrounding the electoral influence of pro-pot voters. The recent Oregon Attorney General election, which centered around the medical marijuana issue, produced a strong pro-pot Democratic candidate's victory over a pot-farm-busting former Interum U.S. Attorney, and was widely considered a referendum on medical marijuana. While some drug policy activists think the election will have a national impact, others are more skeptical that Oregon's politics may affect legislation as far away as the East Coast. What is clear, however, is that politicians will eventually have to realize they are ignoring a crucial issue, as well as a solid bloc of voters accompanying it.