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Monday, December 10, 2012

More on Public Opinion, Federalism, and Marijuana

Previous posts have examined federalism issues in marijuana control. Consistent with a recent YouGov poll, Gallup finds a preference against federal action in states that have loosened restrictions:
Sixty-four percent of Americans are against the federal government's taking steps to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal. Americans who personally believe that marijuana should be legal overwhelmingly say the federal government should not get involved at the state level, along with four in 10 of those who are opposed to legalized marijuana. [emphasis  added]
The issue of what the federal government should do in these situations is particularly relevant, given recently passed initiatives in Washington and Colorado that legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. These state-level laws are at odds with the federal Controlled Substances Act that makes marijuana use illegal. Although all of the precise specifications of the new law in Washington have not yet been determined, the fact that a number of pot smokers gathered near the Space Needle in Seattle last week to publicly celebrate their state's new law underscored this potential conflict between what could be legal under new state laws while remaining illegal at the federal level.
The results from the Nov. 26-29 USA Today/Gallup poll indicate that the average American sides with the states in these instances of conflict.