The part of the new Pew Research poll showing majority support for marijuana that may have the biggest impact in the short term is the section that shows Americans overwhelmingly want the federal government to leave new state marijuana legalization law alone.
According to the poll Americans overwhelmingly don’t want the federal government to interfere in states that allow marijuana use. It found 60 percent don’t want the feds to enforce federal marijuana laws in those states, while just 35 percent think the federal government should interfere.
Interestingly, there is basically no partisan divide on whether or not marijuana law should be left up to the states, even though there is a large partisan divide on whether or not it should be legal. Basically equally large majorities of Republicans (57%), Democrats (59%) and Independents (64%) want the federal government to stay out of state marijuana law.
At least part of the reason some many people don’t want to see federal agents enforcing federal law against the will of local voters is that almost everyone thinks the war on marijuana is no longer worth the cost. The poll found 72 percent believe government enforcement of marijuana laws cost more than they are worth.
This part of the poll is especially important now because the Obama administration is still engaged in internal discussions about how to deal with the new legalization laws approved by voters in Colorado and Washington State. The fact that multiple polls confirm regular American overwhelmingly want the administration to take a hands-off approach must weigh into their deliberations.