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Marijuana Legalization Endorsed by Second Largest Paper in Oregon

By: Tuesday September 30, 2014 6:21 am

Initiative 91, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults in Oregon, now has the support of the two largest papers in the state. Last month the initiative was endorsed by The Oregonian, the states largest paper, and recently the second largest daily, The Register-Guard, endorsed it as well. Their editorial concludes:

Though the tide of public opinion has shifted in favor of legalization, many remain apprehensive about the social effects of placing marijuana alongside alcohol and tobacco as legal drugs. It’s likely that marijuana will prove to be the least damaging of the three, but pot can cloud people’s judgment, sap their ambition and result in addiction. Society is already feeling those effects, because marijuana is so widely used. Prohibition compounds the social effects by adding unwanted legal and economic consequences.

It’s time to strip away those consequences and address the issues of drug use more rationally and effectively. Measure 91 deserves a “yes” vote.

The Initiative 91 campaign rolled out an impressive set of institutional endorsements in the lead-up to the election, but the race remains close.

The latest public poll shows the yes side with a small advantage but too close to call. It has 44 percent of likely voters certain to vote Yes and 40 percent certain to vote No. Whether are not young people turnout in large numbers for a non-presidential election to back marijuana legalization could make the difference.

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

First Ad Released for Medical Marijuana Campaign in Florida

By: Monday September 29, 2014 11:28 am

With just five weeks until the election the United for Care campaign has released their first TV ad in support of Medical Marijuana in Florida.

The ad titled “It Worked” has a simple message similar to what many other states have down for over a decade.

The fight over Amendment 2, Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions, has surprisingly become one of the most hotly contested marijuana related ballot initiatives, thanks is large part to conservative mega-donor Sheldon Adelson spending millions against it and the unusual rules governing Florida’s initiative process.

While it is clear the people in Florida want medical marijuana, by law an amendment on the ballot needs to get a super majority vote of 60 percent to be adopted. Polling indicates the well-financed opposition campaign just might be able to stop the amendment from clearing that significant hurdle.

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

California Adopts Law Ending Disparity Between Crack and Cocaine

By: Monday September 29, 2014 9:48 am

California Governor Jerry Brown signed The California Fair Sentencing Act eliminating the disparity in sentencing for cocaine

California took an important step last night in reducing the inherent racism in its drug laws and how they are enforced. Among the dozens of bills signed by California Governor Jerry Brown (D) on Sunday was SB 1010, The California Fair Sentencing Act, sponsored by State Senator Holly Mitchell (D).

The law, which takes effect at the beginning of 2015, will make the penalties for crack cocaine offenses the same as those for powder cocaine. Cocaine is cocaine.

While they are just two different forms of the same drug, during the 1980′s laws were adopted to make the penalties for crack cocaine offenses more draconian than cocaine offenses. Creating this higher tier for crack appears motivated by the perception that crack was considered a “Black” and “inner city” drug while powder cocaine was associated with white users. These drug war-era laws have resulted in an explosion in the prison population, particularly among minorities.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, “People of color account for over 98 percent of persons sent to California prisons for possession of crack cocaine for sale. From 2005 to 2010, Blacks accounted for 77.4 percent of state prison commitments for crack possession for sale, Latinos accounted for 18.1 percent. Whites accounted for less than 2 percent of all those sent to California prisons in that five year period. Blacks make up 6.6 percent of the population in California; Latinos 38.2 percent, and whites 39.4 percent.”

While Congress did reduce the disparity between how it treats crack cocaine and powder cocaine under federal law, this effectively racist legal distinction continues to exist in our national laws. Consider that for a moment. It is 2014 and we still have laws that any sane observer will acknowledge are unfair and racist.

Has There Been a Drop in Support for Marijuana Legalization?

By: Friday September 26, 2014 8:21 am

The Suffolk poll didn’t really find a shift in opinion among anyone about marijuana legalization.

Opponents of marijuana legalization recently seized on two polls in an effort to make a case there is some backlash against legalization, a local Colorado poll by Suffolk University and a national poll Public Religion Research Institute. Let’s look at both of these.

Colorado poll

The Suffolk poll found only 45.8 percent of likely voters still agree with the decision to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado while 50.2 disagree. This actually doesn’t show a drop in support for legalization in the state because the poll is of likely 2014 midterm voters.

Polls are normally conducted of adults, registered voters (a subset of adults), or likely voters (a farther subset of registered voters). As a group likely voters tend to be older and more conservative than the population as a whole, and this is especially true in low turnout non-Presidential year elections. This is a well known fact, which is why the legalization campaign in Colorado chose to put its initiative on the ballot in 2012 instead of 2014. For example, this poll also found only 46 percent of likely voters this election voted for Obama in 2012, even though he won 51.5 percent of the vote in 2012.

The poll didn’t really find a shift in opinion among anyone about marijuana legalization. It just found that many of the young people who voted for legalization in 2012 aren’t planning to vote in this midterm, while the most of the older people who voted against it are, but that is to be expected.

For comparison, an NBC/Marist poll conducted just a few weeks earlier found 55 percent of adults and 52 percent of register voters favor the marijuana legalization law. That is very similar to the margin by which it was approved in the last high turnout presidential election.

National Poll

The new Public Religion Research Institute poll found 44 percent of Americans adults favor making the use of marijuana legal. The poll previously found support at 51 percent in 2013 and at 43 percent in 2012. It is possible they actually captured a massive swing or that that one or both of their recent samples was bad. It is worth noting the poll also found support for same-sex marijuana going up by three points from 2012 to 2013 then down by three points from 2013 to 2014, which seems to disagree with the general trend other pollsters have found on the issue of marriage equality.

Since individual polls can be outliers this is why it is best to look at the average of all polls. At the moment all other national polls this year still show at least a plurality of Americans support making marijuana legal and many state polls this year also show majority support. It is possible this one poll might actually have captured something, but we’ll need other polls to confirm before I would put much stock in it.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy, which is on sale this week for just $0.99!

Narrow Plurality Backs Oregon Marijuana Legalization Initiative

By: Friday September 26, 2014 7:54 am

The fight to legalize marijuana in Oregon this November is looking like it could be a real nailbiter this November.

A new SurveyUSA poll for KATU-TV found that 44 percent of likely voters plan to vote for Measure 91 while 40 percent plan to vote against it, and the remaining 16 percent remain undecided.

If Undecided broke evenly or simply don’t bother to vote on this question the measure would narrowly win, but when it comes to ballot measures Undecideds often tend to break against change.

There are two reasons to suspect the poll might be slightly underestimating support. The poll question asked “First, Measure 91, which would legalize recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and older. On Measure 91, are you …” so it didn’t mention that the measure would also tax and regulate marijuana. While that might seem a small difference in other polls having the question explicitly state legal marijuana would be taxed and regulated significantly increases support.

In addition, according to the crosstabs the poll found only 54 percent of voters under 30 plan to support the measure, which is suspiciously low compared to national and other state polling. This age group is one of the hardest for pollsters to get on the phone to answer questions so sampling them accurately is difficult. I won’t be surprised if support among this age group was actually much higher.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy, which is on sale this week for just $0.99!


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