Popular opinion is trending towards making marijuana legal for adults but controlled.

Americans have turned about marijuana prohibition because it is a horrible policy. The incredibly expensive war on pot has failed to stop people from using marijuana but has succeeded in funneling money to criminals and creating an extremely racist system of enforcement. Voters are realizing that trying to discourage people from using a relatively benign plant is not worth the negative consequences.

Anti-prohibition shouldn’t be confused with being pro-marijuana use. The vast majority of voters don’t currently smoke marijuana or plan to smoke marijuana in the future if it is legalized. In Colorado, where marijuana is now legal, just ten percent of voters use it. Many supporters of ending marijuana prohibition still don’t think smoking marijuana is a positive habit or something that should be promoted.

Increasingly, voters want to see prohibition ended but also want to see marijuana be strongly regulated. During the 2012 election the more tightly regulated marijuana legalization initiatives easily won in Colorado and Washington State, but the more libertarian measure in Oregon failed.

In the 2013 election voters in Colorado overwhelmingly voted to place a significant excise tax on legal marijuana. That measure was approved by an even greater margin than the measure legalizing marijuana the year before. Similarly, recent polling found 81 percent of Colorado voters would oppose increasing the small home growing plant limit.

Polling two months ago in California found just 8 percent want marijuana legalized so it can be purchased by anyone, while an additional 47 percent want it legalized but only if it has controls similar to alcohol.

Popular opinion is trending towards making marijuana legal for adults but controlled. Its use by adults should simply be legally tolerated not promoted. The country is simply turning against the policy of prohibition.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

Photo by marijuana2007b under Creative Commons license.