(photo: prensa420/flickr)

A majority, 52 percent, of Rhode Island voters would support legalizing marijuana and having it taxed and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol according to a new PPP poll sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project. Just 41 percent of voters in the state would oppose this change.

In addition, the poll found an impressive 65 percent of the state would support dropping the penalty for marijuana possession down to just a modest civil fine. That is even a greater level of support than the 62.8 percent yes vote by which voters in Massachusetts, RI’s neighbor to the north, approved ballot initiative Question 2 that decriminalized marijuana possession in 2008. From MPP:

Of those polled, an overwhelming 65% supported decreasing the penalties for simple possession of less than an ounce of marijuana by removing the possibility of jail time and making the offense a civil citation. Such a change received support from across the political spectrum, with 73% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans, and 60% of independents in favor of the measure. Two bills, H 7092 and S 2253, have been introduced in the Rhode Island House and Senate to remove the threat of arrest and jail for personal possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

A majority of Rhode Islanders would like to go beyond the reforms proposed by H 7092 and S 2253. Of those polled, 52% would like to see all penalties for personal possession and use of marijuana removed and marijuana treated in a manner similar to alcohol, where it would be taxed, regulated, and sold in state-licensed stores to adults over the age of 21. This idea also received bipartisan support and was backed by 55% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans. Legislation to establish such a system will likely be introduced in Rhode Island this year.

Support for reforming our country’s outdated laws regarding cannabis is very strong and growing rapidly. This is a trend we are seeing both at the national and the state level. Last year Gallup found that 50 percent of American adults would support marijuana legalization. In just the past few months state polls have found a majority of voters in Massachusetts, California and now Rhodes island would support legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol.

As a country we are quickly approaching a critical cultural and political tipping point on this issue.