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Support for Marijuana Legalization Grows 55 Percent in Florida

By: Monday July 28, 2014 7:19 am

The poll also found 9 out of 10 voters support medical marijuana

A clear majority of voters in Florida want marijuana use to be legalized. A new Quinnipiac poll found 55 percent of voters in the state support making it legal for adults to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Only 41 percent of voters oppose this change.

Support for legalizing marijuana has been growing steadily over the past few months. In November only 48 percent supported legalization, that climbed to 53 percent in May and now 55 percent today. A huge swing in less than a year.

The poll also found an incredibly 88 percent of voters in the state back medical marijuana, which is important since a medical marijuana amendment is on the ballot this November but must get at least 60 percent of the vote to be adopted. If Amendment 2 is approved it would allow patients with “debilitating diseases” to legally access medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. In addition the state would allow for the creation of regulated dispensaries throughout to provide these new patients with their medicine.

The poll also found most voters in Florida won’t be bothered by having one of these new dispensary located in their home town. Only 26 percent would oppose a medical marijuana dispensary opening in their city while 71 percent would support the idea.

Photo by Goodiez under Creative Commons license

New York Times Endorses Marijuana Legalization

By: Saturday July 26, 2014 3:13 pm

The United States’ most prominent newspaper has come out strongly in support of marijuana legalization. The New York Times editorial this weekend endorsed ending federal marijuana prohibition and leaving its legal status up to the individual states. From the New York Times:

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

It is worth noting this is the exact same way alcohol prohibition ended. The 21st amendment gave states the power to decide how alcohol is treated within their borders. While many states ended their own alcohol prohibitions right after some states keep their bans on alcohol going for years and even decades later. It wasn’t until 1966 when Mississippi become the last state to end its prohibition.

The endorsement is actually only the start of a series of articles on issues related to marijuana reform. Of course, if you want a truly in depth look into the issues they plan to explore and how marijuana is likely to be regulated in the future, you can pick up a copy of my book, After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy.

What Marijuana Reform Can and Can’t Do About Racial Injustice

By: Friday July 25, 2014 7:04 am

Marijuana legalization can’t by itself stop law enforcement from more aggressively targeting minority communities, but it removes one of the most common, unfair, and senseless reasons police have used

One of the significant reasons to support marijuana reform is the huge racial disparity in marijuana arrests, but marijuana reform alone can’t fix the source of the racial bias in our justice system. What it does do is treat one of the worst symptoms of this disease.

The racial disparity in arrests is the product of many things including systematic racism (both explicit and subconscious), policing tactics, housing patterns, legacy of past policies, poverty, etc… So as we have seen in Washington state and Seattle, even after marijuana is legalized, the racial disparity in marijuana arrests doesn’t entirely disappear, but the damage it causes is dramatically reduced.

Marijuana use is the most common victimless crime that people of all races can get in serious legal trouble for. In 2012 there were an incredible 650,000 arrests for marijuana possession, more than all violent crimes combined. When marijuana is legalized that number plummets to almost nothing for people of all races.

As we saw in Washington state, adult arrests for less than 40 grams of marijuana dropped from roughly 7,000 before legalization to only 120 after legalization. While sadly African-Americans still made up a larger share of that very small pool than they should have, the total number of African-Americans arrested was cut to just a tiny fraction of what it once was.

Similarly, in Seattle African-Americans were ticketed for public marijuana consumption at a higher rate than whites. But we are talking about only a few dozen people, and the punishment was merely a small fine — unlike in other parts of the country where in similar-sized cities thousands face possible jail time and a criminal record just for having marijuana.

Marijuana legalization can’t by itself stop law enforcement from more aggressively targeting minority communities, but it removes one of the most common, unfair, and senseless reasons -by far- police have used to arrest and justify searches of hundreds of thousands of minorities.

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

Why the Legal Marijuana Age Has to Be 21

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 8:47 am

There is no real legal, moral or scientific reason why the age restriction in the state marijuana legalization initiatives should be 21 instead of 19 or 22, but it is a political necessity.

The American people overwhelmingly want the drinking age to remain 21. According to a new Gallup poll, 74 percent would oppose a federal law lowering the drinking age to 18 across the country. It found every major political subgroup opposes this change. From Gallup:

Favor or Oppose Lowering Drinking Age to 18

Given that the American public is still relatively skeptical about the idea of legal marijuana there is no way they would support making marijuana more readily available than alcohol.

While there might be some good arguments for why the United States should bring its drinking age more in line with those in Europe, that is separate debate the American people don’t seem very open to at the moment.

With only a modest majority of voters in support of the idea of marijuana legalization, ballot initiative campaigns can’t afford to alienate voters with an unpopular provision that takes the losing side on this age topic.

In Uruguay it was possible to set the legal age for marijuana purchasing at 18 because they don’t have a higher drinking age, but that won’t work politically in the United States.

For whatever reason Americans have decided they really like an age limit of 21, so that is why all three legalization initiative this year, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C., needed to go with that number.

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

Marijuana Legalization Would Generate $38.5 Million for Oregon in the First Year

By: Wednesday July 23, 2014 12:14 pm

This November the voters of Oregon will have a chance to legalize marijuana and if they do the legal marijuana market could add around $38.5 million in new taxes for state.

A new report by ECONorthwest for the New Approach Oregon campaign estimates that the marijuana excise tax contained in their initiative would generate $38.5 million during the first fiscal year of tax receipts. That money would come only from the newly legalized adult-use market.

They assume most people using the current medical marijuana system will stay with it, which seems likely based on what has happened in Colorado so far. The initiative doesn’t tax medical marijuana.

Obviously, making projection when there are still some unknowns is difficult. We don’t know how many people will choose to grow their own, how many localities will ban marijuana stores and what the retail price will end up at. That said this is a decent ballpark of what to expect from the just the tax side. This analysis doesn’t include the likely criminal justice savings.

As we have seen in Colorado legal marijuana can be an effective revenue generator for the government.

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

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