According to a recently released Gallup Poll, for the first time in the survey's history, more people responded that they think marijuana should be a legal substance than said it should remain illegal.
The poll found that 50 percent of Americans now think that marijuana (a.k.a. pot, weed, cannabis, left-handed cigarettes, wacky tobacky, etc.) should be considered a legal substance by the U. S. government, which considers it a Schedule 1 drug. The designation, which was reapplied to marijuana by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in July, kept pot in the same drug category as heroin. According to the Los Angeles Times, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, in a rejection letter dated June 21 to the organizations that filed a petition for a change in the law, that she used documentation from the Federal Register and found that marijuana “has a high potential for abuse,” “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” and “lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”
This, despite the growing acceptable use of marijuana as a medical substance used in the treatment of various illnesses in fifteen states. Six of those same states, like California, Alaska, and Maine, also have decriminalization laws. An additional eight states have decriminalized marijuana as well but have as yet to allow for the use of medical marijuana.
The poll's findings show a record high for those who think the drug should be legalized and is up 4 percent over 2009. The poll also showed the 46 percent of the population still oppose its legalization. Most notable about those numbers, though, is that for the first time in the 42 years since Gallup began surveying what Americans thought about the legalization issue, the number who favor legalization surpassed those who did not.
Those who hold a pro-pot outlook have been on the rise for years but most notably since 2002, noted Gallup. In fact, the number has increased by 10 percent in the last five years alone. The survey also noted that those in favor of legalization tended to live in western states and trended toward a younger age. In fact, respondents between the ages of 18-29 were twice more likely to support legalization than those 65 or older. And men preferred to legalize marijuana by a 55 to 46 percent margin.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has noted that pot smoking ranks third among recreational drug use in the U. S. behind alcohol and tobacco.
With the growing number of proponents, legalization advocates will undoubtedly launch yet another attempt to see the smokable plant at least decriminalized. It will be the fourth attempt. The first occurred in 1972 and the government did not respond until 1989. The second attempt, launched in 1995, saw only a six year delay. However, the third attempt, which ended in rejection in July, was filed in 2002.
As Gallup concluded about their findings, "If this current trend on legalizing marijuana continues, pressure may build to bring the nation's laws into compliance with the people's wishes."
You can almost see national campaign ads hitting television stations, hear pro-pot ads on the radio, all over the country in the coming years. And the music? Peter Tosh's "Legalize It," of course.
(photo credit: Bogdan, Creative Commons)