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Slim Majority of New Yorkers Say Legalize Marijuana

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #764)

A Quinnipiac poll released last Friday has New Yorkers supporting marijuana legalization by a narrow majority. The poll found 51% supported marijuana legalization, with 44% opposed.

That puts New York in line with the rest of the country, where most post-election polls are showing support for legalization at over 50%. Those polls come in the wake of victories for the Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington, respectively.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pushing marijuana decriminalization, but the Quinnipiac poll suggests New Yorkers are ahead of their political leaders on the issue of marijuana reform.

New York City has achieved notoriety as the marijuana arrest capital of the world, with the NYPD arresting tens of thousands of mainly young black and brown men each year. Despite recent reforms, those numbers have yet to significantly decrease.

In a report released last month, Human Rights Watch found that between 1996 and 2011, the NYPD arrested more than 563,000 people for possession of marijuana in public (typically after police intimidate them into emptying their pockets and revealing their baggies), including nearly 100,000 in 2010 and 2011 alone. Neither Mayor Michael Bloomberg nor the NYPD "has ever provided a detailed justification for the high number of marijuana arrests, suggesting only that the arrests improve public safety," the report noted.

But the report also examined the subsequent criminal histories of the 2003 and 2004 cohorts of New York City pot possession arrestees. It found that more than 90% of them had not subsequently been arrested on a felony charge.

The Quinnipiac poll found majority support for legalization in New York City (54%) and its suburbs (50%), and a plurality (49%) for legalization upstate. Majorities supported freeing the weed in every age group except seniors, while majorities of Democrats (56%) and independents (57%) also favored legalization. Only 33% of Republicans did.

Men were more likely to support legalization (56%) than women (47%), while people with college degrees were more likely to support it (58%) than those without (47%). People who identified themselves as belonging to a religious denomination had levels of support ranging from 46% to 48%, while 70% of those who said they had no religion supported legalization.

Gov. Cuomo has been talking decriminalization. Given last month's election results and this month's polling, perhaps he should raise his sights.

The poll contacted 1,302 New York state voters between December 5 and 10 and asked"Do you think that the use of marijuana should be made legal in New York State, or not?" The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.

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.


saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

Or legalize, regulate and tax, since those are more precise descriptions of what happened in WA and CO, and will happen in other states in 2014. And support is often a lot higher when 'legalize and regulate' is used instead of just 'legalize'. So the recent spate of good polls may be understating support for some form of legalization (though not necessarily support for any specific plan).

Mon, 12/17/2012 - 6:07pm Permalink
Skunk Monk (not verified)

In reply to by saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

New York is a fairly mixed and liberal city and I thought the amount of people in favor of legalization would have been higher and if the poll was questioned with the over 21 age it would probably have been a few points more e.g. 55 - 60 . There is a big problem with the 21 age limit that is imposed on the drinking age limit that is a residual effect from the prohibition era is in conflict with the voting age 18 (considered age of adult maturity) age in the US and most countries worldwide drinking age is 18. This is a moot point and it should probably not even be questioned (for alcohol as well) until after cannabis prohibition has ended because the 21 age limit is ingrained in peoples thoughts as an acceptable age limit since 1988 and prohibition of alcohol hasn't fully stopped since there are still quite a lot of dry counties

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 9:32am Permalink
CJ (not verified)

I live in NYC and I'm telling you that there is a massive amount of people, a significant percentage, possibly 20-30% though that number can be a little low who would never in a million years be apart of any survey, not because they wouldn't be happy to participate but because, for the most part, they're totally out of touch with society. Listen if the pot legalization thing came up I assure you a large percentage of people at shelters, in patient programs, methadone clinics, their friends, their cousins, etc. etc. would emerge out of nowhere to vote yes on this. I could be wrong about NYC passing it, because I could be underestimating the number of anti weed conservatives but I couldn't see NYC residents not putting pot legalization forward if given the chance.

Not that it matters to me, and, I'm pretty confident, at the moment anyhow, that if the question I care about, heroin legalization, came to the polls, NYC would defeat it pretty soundly. So I'm making this assumption about fellow NY'ers and a legalization ballot without any particular invested interest, I assure you if the best bud in the world was 5 bucks a pack at all those bodegas and loco lottery newspaper stores/flower sales shops/softdrink sales spots I would never ever buy any of it not because I'm against weed or its legalization, I just don't like it at all for myself. I find it boring and unpleasant. But am not stupid enough to think the rest of the world feels like I do cause they certainly don't. I guess I would hope weed is legalized for weed lovers but nevertheless, 51%? I would bet 2 bundles of superman stamp smack that if it went to ballot weed would get passed in NYC. 

Tue, 12/18/2012 - 6:42am Permalink
nicoli7643 (not verified)

In reply to by CJ (not verified)

Heroin legalization! that chemical is legal and is present in pharmacies as oxycoton, now if you were reeferring to recreational use of heroin then i'd say you're a lunatic. If anything heroin is one drug our country is doing the right thing with strict control and felony charges for dopers. :)

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 1:35pm Permalink

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