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Gov. Schweitzer Vetoes Repeal of Montana's Medical Marijuana Law

Location: 
MT
United States
Gov. Brian Schweitzer has vetoed a Republican bill that would have repealed the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law. Schweitzer vetoed the bill along with several others he called "frivolous, unconstitutional or in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the people of Montana." Voters in 2004 overwhelmingly approved the use of medical marijuana.
Publication/Source: 
The Billings Gazette (MT)
URL: 
http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_646813c0-65f9-11e0-ad04-001cc4c002e0.html

Mexico, Just Say No to America's Prohibitionist War on Drugs (Opinion)

Location: 
Mexico
Gwynne Dyer, an independent journalist based in London, opines on the state of Mexico's drug prohibition war against the backdrop of a remarkable event that occurred in Mexico last week. Tens of thousands of Mexicans gathered in the main squares of cities across the country to demand an end to the "war on drugs". In the Zocalo, in the heart of Mexico City, they chanted "no more blood" and many called for the resignation of President Felipe Calderon, who began the war by using the army against the drug trafficking organizations in late 2006.
Publication/Source: 
The New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
URL: 
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10718630

Californians Favor Lessening Drug Possession Penalties [FEATURE]

California voters strongly approve of reducing penalties for simple drug possession, according to a poll released Monday by number of groups seeking drug law reforms. Nearly three-quarters (72%) surveyed favored reducing the penalties for drug possession, including strong majorities of Democrats (79%), independents (72%), and Republicans (66%).

Californians appear ready to reduce drug possession to misdemeanor. (Image courtesy Aaron Logan via Wikimedia.org)
The poll was conducted by Lake Research and can be viewed here. There is also an accompanying press release. It was commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance, the ACLU of Northern California and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. It surveyed 800 likely voters in the 2012 general election between March 21 and March 24. The margin of error is +/- 3.5%.

Possession of drugs like cocaine and heroin is a felony in California and is punishable by up to three years in state prison. The state's overcrowded prison system currently holds 9,000 drug possession offenders at a cost of $4.5 million dollars a year. The state faces a budget deficit of more than $20 billion.

The polling results will help lay the groundwork for an effort to move legislation that would drop drug possession from a misdemeanor to a felony, advocates said during a Monday teleconference.

Not only did respondents want to see penalties for drug possession lowered, a majority wanted to see them dramatically lowered, if not removed altogether. Some 51% said either that drug possession sentences should not exceed three months (27%) or that drug possession should not be punished with jail time at all (24%).

A majority (56%) said California sends too many people to prison, and three-quarters said the state should instead use the millions spent to imprison drug users for schools, law enforcement, and health care.

Support for drastically reducing sentences for drug possession cut across all demographic, regional, and ethnic lines. And that support would translate into votes during an election, the poll found. More than 40% said they would be more likely to support a candidate who reduced the penalty to a misdemeanor, while only 15% said they would be less likely.

"We found a widely, and intensely, held belief among voters that California imprisons too many people and can no longer afford to spend billions on prisons amid massive cuts to education and social services," said Daniel Gotoff of Lake Research. "This is a voting issue now. Politicians stand in the way of this popular reform at their own risk."

Support for cutting drug possession sentences held up even after respondents were treated to opposing messages, Gotoff said. "It holds up under attack, and voters don't need to be argued into this," he said. "There is a strongly held perception that the state imprisons too many people and that current penalties are too harsh. The voters are pretty solid on this."

"Support for reducing drug possession penalties crosses all the partisan, regional, and demographic lines that normally divide California voters," said Allen Hopper, police practices director with the ACLU of Northern California. "Solid majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents from every corner of the state overwhelmingly agree that it’s time for a new approach. We need to stop wasting precious tax dollars on unnecessary, expensive jail and prison sentences."

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill that would "realign" the state's overburdened corrections system by diverting nonviolent offenders from the state prison system to county jails. But that measure has yet to be funded, and it does not reduce sentences, but instead merely shuffles inmates from the state to county lock-ups.

"Sacramento's plan to keep people convicted of personal drug possession at the county level doesn't address the belief of a majority of Californians that drug possession shouldn't be a felony and that people shouldn't be locked up for longer than three months for this offense," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director in Southern California for the Drug Policy Alliance.

"Californians aren't just interested in saving money. They're also interested in seeing people contribute to their families and communities," said Kris Lev-Twombly, director of programs at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. "California voters want to see that people are not burdened with a life-long felony record for drug possession that makes it tough to find a job or support a family. Current penalties work against individual, family and community well-being and public safety."


Also addressing the teleconference was Maria Alexander of the Center for Living and Learning, a reentry services provider. "Many people we serve have successfully overcome drug problems, but now they can't find jobs because they have felony convictions," she said. "The fact that some people can overcome this barrier is a testament to their dedication and hard work, but we don't have to make it so hard. Giving these people felony records is counterproductive and anti-recovery."

"Californians clearly and strongly reject the state's misplaced priorities that have pushed funding toward jails and prisons and away from schools," said Alice Huffman, president of the California State Conference of the NAACP. "The California NAACP urges the state legislature and the governor to listen to voters and reduce the penalty for drug possession for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor."

This poll suggests strong public support for de-felonizing drug possession in California and lesser, but still substantial support for decriminalizing it. Now, it's time to lean on the legislature to bring it into line with enlightened public sentiment.

CA
United States

Poll: Nearly 75% of California Voters Want Possession of Small Amount of Illegal Drugs to Be Misdemeanor, Not Felony

Location: 
CA
United States
A Lake Research Partners poll found that almost 75% of California voters likely to cast ballots in 2012 believe the crime should be downgraded to a misdemeanor. And 40% went even further, saying they think it should be dropped to an infraction, which is the equivalent of a speeding ticket and carries no prison time.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/04/voters-marijuana-use-felony-to-misdemeanor.html

Majorities of Americans Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana in Their State Says Harris Poll

A new Harris Poll indicates that three quarters of Americans support legalization of marijuana for medical treatment (74%), with almost half saying they strongly support it (48%). Significantly fewer Americans say they oppose the legalization of medical marijuana in their state (18%), and even less are not sure (7%) or decline to answer (1%).
Publication/Source: 
The Sacramento Bee (CA)
URL: 
http://www.sacbee.com/2011/03/31/3517394/majorities-of-americans-support.html

Poll: Mexicans Think Drug Trafficking Organizations Are Winning Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Mexico
Six out of 10 Mexicans think that drug trafficking organizations are getting the upper hand in the prohibitionist war that President Felipe Calderon launched when he came to office in late 2006, the poll by Demotecnia found. The poll may augur a change in the country's approach to drug trafficking when a new administration takes over after elections next year.
Publication/Source: 
Miami Herald (FL)
URL: 
http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/29/2140147/poll-mexicans-think-cartels-are.html

Connecticut Voters Support Marijuana Law Reforms

A Quinnipiac University poll released March 10 showed strong support for medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization among Connecticut voters. The poll comes at state legislators consider medical marijuana and decriminalization bills.

The plant is getting popular in Connecticut (Image courtesty of the author)
Medical marijuana had the support of a whopping 79% of respondents. Support was above 70% in every demographic, with even 72% of Republicans favoring it.

"There is a near consensus on the medical marijuana law with about eight in 10 voters supporting it," said Quinnipiac poll director Dr. Douglas Schwartz. "It's rare to see such a level of support for any issue."

Support for pot decriminalization wasn't as overwhelming, but still high -- and trending upward. Decriminalization was supported by a two-to-one margin, with 65% in favor and 32% opposed. That's up seven points from the 58% who supported it in last year's March Quinnipiac poll.

Decriminalization was also supported by every demographic, with even 53% of Republicans and 58% of voters over age 64 in favor. Support was at 70% among Democrats and voters 18 to 34 years old.

The poll was conducted March 1 through 7 by surveying 1,693 registered voters. The poll used live interviewers and called both land lines and cell phones. It a margin of error of +/-2.4% percentage points.

Connecticut voters have clearly signaled in this poll their policy preferences on medical marijuana and decriminalization. Now, let's hope the state legislature, and especially key committee chairs, are paying attention.

CT
United States

Support for Marijuana Legalization Creeping Up

Public support for marijuana legalization continues its upward trend and has "never been higher," according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The poll had support for marijuana legalization at 45%, up four points from the same poll a year earlier.

Half of respondents (50%) still opposed legalizing pot, but that number is down two points from last year and continues a two-decade long trend of declining opposition. In 1990, 81% opposed legalization; by 2000, that number had declined to 63%, and has continued to drop since then.

The upward trend line for legalization and the downward one opposing legalization are nearing the convergence point, and support for legalization will soon surpass opposition, if current trends continue.

Pro-legalization sentiment was strongest among 18-to-29-year-olds (54%), Democrats (53%), and people with some college education (50%). Among liberal Democrats, support rose to 66%.

Keeping marijuana illegal got the strongest support from Republicans (67%) and people over 65 (66%), and women (54%). Men were evenly divided on the issue.

The new Pew poll is in line with other polls in recent years showing a steady increase in support for marijuana legalization, but that we're not quite there yet nationally. Still, we are getting tantalizingly close. You can review our archive of Chronicle articles about polls here.

57 Percent of Floridians Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Location: 
FL
United States
A new poll shows that 57 percent of Floridians support legalization of medical marijuana as buzz grows that the issue could be placed on the ballot as soon as 2012. The poll was conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, a Republican firm that worked with Rick Scott's gubernatorial campaign.
Publication/Source: 
Miami New Times (FL)
URL: 
http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2011/03/57_percent_of_floridians_suppo.php

Polls Show Voters in Michigan and Montana Still Overwhelmingly Support Medical Marijuana (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            February 23, 2011

Polls Show Voters in Michigan and Montana Still Overwhelmingly Support Medical Marijuana

Montana voters reject legislative push for repeal, favor regulation

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager ………………………. (202) 905-2031 or mfox@mpp.org

Amid a push in Montana to repeal the state’s medical marijuana law and litigation related to some aspects of Michigan’s law, new polls show that voters in both states still overwhelmingly support allowing patients to use medical marijuana with doctors’ recommendations. In Montana on Monday, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the state’s voter-enacted law. Meanwhile, the state’s Senate is considering legislation to add regulations to the distribution and cultivation of marijuana in the state. These poll results show that voters want to work with their state legislatures to ensure that access to medical marijuana is protected and any problems that arise are addressed in a rational manner through regulation.

A recent poll conducted by Marketing Resource Group, Inc. revealed that a strong majority of Michigan voters still support the medical marijuana law they approved in November 2008. When asked if they would vote for the law again today, 61% responded that they would. This level of support is nearly identical to the percentage by which the initiative was voted into law, and shows that Michiganders recognize the benefits their medical marijuana program has for sick and dying people in their state.

A statewide poll conducted by Public Policy Polling last weekend found that a sizeable majority of adult Montanans -- 63% -- still supports allowing medical marijuana, and most would support strict new regulations. But, in stark contrast, only 20% support the legislature repealing medical marijuana. An overwhelming 76% believe the Legislature should either adopt new regulations or leave the law unchanged entirely. In 2004, 62% of Montana voters enacted their state’s medical marijuana law.

“These polls show that voters stand firmly behind the compassionate policies they enacted at the ballot box,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, “Since Montana and Michigan’s laws were enacted, federal policy has improved and states have found better ways to provide patients access and address community concerns. Montana and Michigan should follow the lead of six states and D.C., by providing for well regulated dispensary systems.”

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

####

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