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Public Opinion: ABC News/Washington Post Poll Shows Four Out of Five Support Medical Marijuana, Nearly Half Support Legalization

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #617)
Politics & Advocacy

Medical marijuana has public support approaching motherhood and apple pie levels, while nearly half of Americans support legalization for personal use, according to a newly released national poll. According to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 81% of Americans support medical marijuana, while 46% would be okay with legalizing marijuana for personal use.

time is on our side (source: ABC News/Time)
Support for medical marijuana is up from an already impressive 69% a decade ago, and 56% say that if medical marijuana is legal, doctors should be able to prescribe it to anyone they think it can help. That runs against the trend toward ever more restrictive medical marijuana laws being passed in the states. The New Jersey law that went into effect this week, for instance, allows marijuana for only a handful of severe illnesses.

As for legalizing personal use, the poll's 46% approval figure matches that of last spring's ABC News/Washington Post poll. As recently as 1997, legalization polled at 22%, then shot up to 39% in 2002 before beginning to level off last spring.

That puts this poll in line with other recent polls on legalization. Zogby polled 44% in favor in February and 52% in April. That same month, Rasmussen had support for "taxation and regulation" at 41%, while a July CBS News poll had support for legalization at 41%. In October, Gallup had 44% for legalization -- its highest percentage ever -- while a December Angus-Reid poll had 53% supporting legalization.

For adults under age 65, support for legalization was at 51%, while only 23% of senior citizens approved. Across the political spectrum, legalization was the majority position among liberals (63%), moderates (53%), and Democrats (53%), while only 49% of independents, 32% of Republicans, and 30% of conservatives approved.

But medical marijuana's support transcended political and party lines. Even 68% of conservatives approved, as did 72% of Republicans, 85% of Democrats and 90% of moderates and liberals.

A solid majority (56%) said marijuana should be made available to any patient for whom a doctor has prescribed it, while 21% thought it should be limited to terminal patients and another 21% thought it should be limited to serious illnesses. Not surprisingly, people who did not favor medical marijuana in general were more likely to favor restricting its medical use, with 75% of that group saying it should be limited to seriously or terminally ill patients. Among those who approve of medical marijuana, 63% would rely on the doctor's judgment.

This latest poll only adds to the growing mound of evidence suggesting that support for marijuana legalization is hovering at the cusp of majority approval. It also indicates strongly that support for medical marijuana is non-controversial, and one could even suggest that politicians who oppose medical marijuana do so at their own risk.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Matt M (not verified)

As much as I love my grandparents, I have to admit I believe most of the assinine laws based on "morality", which are typically defined and defended by biblical and other similar sources, are going to die with the death of the baby boomer generation. Sorry Gram and Pap, but your time in the sun has passed; time to move along.

Fri, 01/22/2010 - 5:56pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Matt M (not verified)

There is no Biblical basis, at all, for the prohibition of anything. Psalms mentions the risks of alcohol and "strong drink" and says nothing about prohibition of anything. Just remember, the only prohibition in the Garden of Eden did not work out well either. They were just human, anyway!

And my father is a great grandfather, many times over, soon to be a great great grandfather! He also agrees cannabis should be legal. He is 74 years of age. So, referring to Gram and Pap, actually, is too much generalizing, too!

Check out the web site Christians Against Prohibition.

Sat, 01/23/2010 - 1:31pm Permalink
Jean Boyd (not verified)

In reply to by Matt M (not verified)

Many of the laws based on morality may thrive due to the older generations. However, please do not confuse "baby boomers" with "moral" old timers. Remember, it was "baby boomers" who came together at Woodstock and brought you Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison of the Doors, Bob Dylan etc. (too many to name.) I do not know how old your grandparents are but maybe you should ask them about their history with pot (and other drugs) while they are still "in the sun".

Sat, 01/23/2010 - 11:07pm Permalink
ItsNotAboutPot (not verified)

That's really nice to end the governmental corruption factor,but the real good news here is if "pot"is legal...
That means HEMP is legal,and you can make just about ANYTHING from HEMP.Non polluting and very affordable fuels,plastics,lumber,textiles,paper,foods,and more. When Harry Anslinger and Wm Randolph Hearst started the marijuana farce it wasn't so much about the "pot" as it was about the HEMP.There was a new machine invented that easily separated all the industrial elements of HEMP.
We can have jobs and REAL environmentally safe products that can kick off a worldwide renaissance of the most earth friendly and truly renewable resources that grow like a weed.In some locales every 90 days a beneficial crop of raw materials that mean jobs and economic recovery that would break the back of these crazy petroleum companies that have people dying for polluting petrochemicals.
Don't sit back and think it was ever really about marijuana.It was about the look alike plant that was a threat to Standard Oil. HEMP can break the back off the polluting poison fuels. If "pot" was illegal then HEMP was illegal.
Push for HEMP because it can change the economic landscape of the world which would allow us
to conserve non renewable resources .I'm not as worried about "pot".But if IT"S legal then HEMP is legal and you can make just about anything from HEMP.
That means manufacturing jobs,and cheap raw materials that don't have to be shipped here on polluting container ships,and end supertanker oil spills.The diesel engine was designed to run on agricultural waste and inedible seed oils (primarily hemp) and it took 14 yearsfor the petrochemical companies to reconfigure diesel engines to run on poison petrochemicals.Henry Ford built a car that ran on hemp with a body made of hemp plastic.
Don't underestimate the power of HEMP.The marijuana was a scapegoat to keep us on poison petrol.

Sun, 01/24/2010 - 4:38am Permalink
ItsOverFolks (not verified)

US waves white flag in disastrous 'war on drugs'

After 40 years, Washington is quietly giving up on a futile battle that has spread corruption and destroyed thousands of lives

By Hugh O'Shaughnessy

Sunday, 17 January 2010

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Mexican drug dealers on the American border target local users because of the difficulty of smuggling


Mexican drug dealers on the American border target local users because of the difficulty of smuggling

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After 40 years of defeat and failure, America's "war on drugs" is being buried in the same fashion as it was born – amid bloodshed, confusion, corruption and scandal. US agents are being pulled from South America; Washington is putting its narcotics policy under review, and a newly confident region is no longer prepared to swallow its fatal Prohibition error. Indeed, after the expenditure of billions of dollars and the violent deaths of tens of thousands of people, a suitable epitaph for America's longest "war" may well be the plan, in Bolivia, for every family to be given the right to grow coca in its own backyard.

The "war", declared unilaterally throughout the world by Richard Nixon in 1969, is expiring as its strategists start discarding plans that have proved futile over four decades: they are preparing to withdraw their agents from narcotics battlefields from Colombia to Afghanistan and beginning to coach them in the art of trumpeting victory and melting away into anonymous defeat. Not surprisingly, the new strategy is being gingerly aired in the media of the US establishment, from The Wall Street Journal to the Miami Herald.

Prospects in the new decade are thus opening up for vast amounts of useless government expenditure being reassigned to the treatment of addicts instead of their capture and imprisonment. And, no less important, the ever-expanding balloon of corruption that the "war" has brought to heads of government, armies and police forces wherever it has been waged may slowly start to deflate.
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Prepare to shed a tear over the loss of revenue that eventual decriminalisation of narcotics could bring to the traffickers, large and small, and to the contractors who have been making good money building and running the new prisons that help to bankrupt governments – in the US in particular, where drug offenders – principally small retailers and seldom the rich and important wholesalers – have helped to push the prison population to 1,600,000; their imprisonment is already straining federal and state budgets. In Mississippi, where drug offenders once had to serve 85 per cent of their sentences, they are now being required to serve less than a quarter. California has been ordered to release 40,000 inmates because its prisons are hugely overcrowded.

At the same time, some in the US are confused and fear that the new commission proposed by Congressman Eliot Engel, a man with a record of hostility to the Cuban and Venezuelan governments, may prove to be a broken reed. As he brought in his bill he added timidly: "Let me be absolutely clear that this bill has not been introduced to support the legalisation of illegal drugs. That is not something that I would like to see."

Part of the reason for the slow US retreat from the "war" is that the strategy of fighting it in foreign lands and not at home has proved valueless. Along the already sensitive frontier with Mexico the effect of US attempts to enforce a hard line by blasting drug dealers away has been bloody. Anxious to keep in check the flood of illegal immigrants into territory that once belonged to Mexico, Washington is building a wall and fence comparable to that which once cut through Berlin and that which is today causing havoc between Israelis and Palestinians.

In the areas of Mexico closest to the US frontier the toll of deaths in drug-related violence exceeded 7,000 people in 2009 (1,000 of them dying in January and February). This takes the death toll over three years to above 16,000, figures far in excess of US fatalities in Afghanistan. The bloodshed has continued despite – or perhaps because of – the intense US pressure on President Felipe Calderon to station a large part of the Mexican army in the region. It is deploying 49,000 men on its own soil in the campaign against drugs, a larger force than the 46,000 Britain sent to take part in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. But still the blood flows.

As in Colombia, where a multibillion-dollar US subsidy maintains that country's armed forces, there are well-founded suspicions that military operations are often rendered futile because the miserably paid local commanders and individual soldiers are easily bought off by drug dealers.

The quiet expiry of the "war" has dawned slowly on a world focused on the US's more palpable conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last month, the US House of Representatives gave unanimous approval to a bill creating an independent commission to reconsider domestic and international drug policies and suggest better ones. Congressman Engel, a Democrat from the Bronx and the sponsor of the bill, declared: "Billions upon billions of US taxpayer dollars have been spent over the years to combat the drug trade in Latin America and the Caribbean. In spite of our efforts, the positive results are few and far between."

As far back as last May, Gil Kerlikowske, the former police chief of Seattle who was named head of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy and thus boss of the campaign, announced he would not be using the term "war on drugs" any more. A few weeks earlier, former Latin American presidents of the centre and right – Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia – had told the new US President that the "war" had failed and appealed for greater emphasis on cutting drug consumption and the decriminalisation of cannabis.

For the lives and sanity of millions, the seeing of the light is decidedly late. The conditions of the 1920s, when the US Congress outlawed alcohol and allowed Al Capone and his kin to make massive fortunes, have been re-created up and down Latin America.

Mexico's President has not been afraid to point out to Washington that official corruption is at the root of drug trafficking in the US just as it is in Mexico. "I say we should investigate on both sides. I'm cleaning my house and I hope that on the other side as well the house is being cleaned," he said pointedly last April before President Obama came visiting.

Furthermore, President Calderon says that lax gun control laws in the US caused an influx of firearms into Mexico. He has declared that 90 per cent of the 30,000 weapons that government forces seized from drug dealers in Mexico came from north of the border. For their part, the Latin Americans, under a new generation of more self-confident leaders, are tired of being hectored about their failings by the US, the world's principal source of cannabis whose agents continue the drug dealing they indulged in during the Iran-Contra affair of the Reagan years.

Evidence points to aircraft – familiarly known as "torture taxis" – used by the CIA to move captives seized in its kidnapping or "extraordinary rendition" operations through Gatwick and other airports in the EU being simultaneously used for drug distribution in the Western hemisphere. A Gulfstream II jet aircraft N9875A identified by the British Government and the European Parliament as being involved in this traffic crashed in Mexico in September 2008 while en route from Colombia to the US with a load of more than three tons of cocaine.

In 2004, another torture taxi crashed in a field in Nicaragua with a ton of cocaine aboard. It had been identified by Britain and the European Parliament's temporary committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners as a frequent visitor in 2004 and 2005 to British, Cypriot, Czech, German, Greek, Hungarian, Spanish and other European cities with its cargo of captives for secret imprisonment and torture in Iraq, Jordan and Azerbaijan.

Given the circumstances, it is unremarkable that US strictures are being politely ignored. President Evo Morales of Bolivia – criticised by the US for defending Bolivians' practice of chewing coca leaves to assuage hunger and altitude sickness – wants to allow every Bolivian family around the city of Cochabamba to cultivate coca bushes for their own use. He also wants to export coca leaves to his country's neighbours. Mr Morales's authority, recently reinforced by winning a second presidential term in fair elections and by a strengthening of Bolivia's economy, has no need to worry about US criticism.

Venezuela and Bolivia have expelled US narcotics officers from their territory. At the end of last month, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador ended Washington's lease of a large air base on the Pacific from where US aircraft were engaged in the struggle against the region's increasingly powerful left.

This year should be the year that common sense vanquishes the mailed fist in an unwinnable war against an invisible enemy.

Sun, 01/24/2010 - 4:45am Permalink

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