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New Jersey Voters Don’t Think You Should be Punished for Possessing Pot

By: Tuesday April 15, 2014 12:54 pm

A majority of all age groups, income levels, and religious afflictions want to eliminate all penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, but governor Chris Christie is opposed

As with the rest of the country attitudes towards marijuana policy are shifting rapidly in New Jersey. There is overwhelming support in the state for a full decriminalization of pot. According to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll 65 percent of voters want to eliminate all penalties for the possession of a small amount of marijuana.

A majority of all age groups, income levels, and religious afflictions back this policy. In fact the only subgroups in the state that actually disagree with this change are Republicans and Conservatives. Republicans oppose this change 56 percent to 41 percent. This unfortunately should make it difficult to pressure Gov. Chris Christie (R) on the issue, since he is currently very focused on winning over Republicans votersfor a possible 2016 Presidential bid.

The poll also found a narrow plurality of voters want the sale and use of marijuana to be “completely legalized.” Among voters 49 percent back the complete legalizing of marijuana sales while 48 percent disagree. This represents a dramatic 14 point increase in support for full legalization since the end of 2011 when they last polled on the issue. That is a huge shift in less than four years.

Not surprisingly, support for legalization  is strongest among Democrats, Liberals and young voters while opposition mainly comes from Republicans, Conservatives, and senior citizens.

These result are almost identical to a Monmouth University poll from earlier this month. It found 48 percent in support of legalized cannabis for personal use and 47 percent opposed.

 Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy. The ebook is on sale for $1.99 this week.

Photo by Peter Stevens, used under Creative Commons license

Eric Holder Admits to Putting Politics Ahead of Science on Medical Marijuana

By: Tuesday April 15, 2014 7:20 am

The Controlled Substance Act says the Attorney General should evaluate a drug’s scheduling based on science

Attorney General Eric Holder admits the Obama administration is letting politics overrule science  when it comes to federal classification of medical marijuana. Holder refuses to use his power to move marijuana to a lower schedule, which would legally acknowledge its medical potential, for purely political reasons.

The Controlled Substance Act says the Attorney General should evaluate a drug’s scheduling based on the science regarding its medical benefits and potential for abuse. Instead Holder is making his decision about marijuana scheduling based entirely on how much political cover he has from Congress:

“I think that given what we have done in dealing with the whole Smart on Crime initiative and the executive actions that we have taken, that when it comes to rescheduling, I think this is something that should come from Congress,” Holder said. “We’d be willing to work with Congress if there is a desire on the part of Congress to think about rescheduling. But I think I’d want to hear, get a sense from them about where they’d like to be.”

This honesty from the administration about their reason for not doing the right thing is at least an improvement from past statements. When President Obama has been asked about this issue his habit has been to mislead the public by pretending he is powerless to do anything.

 Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy. The ebook is on sale for $1.99 his week in celebration of 4/20.

Photo of Eric Holder via USDAgov

Maryland Governor Signs Medical Marijuana and Marijuana Decriminalization Laws

By: Monday April 14, 2014 10:09 am

Maryland becomes the 21st state with a functional medical marijuana law, and the 10th to be approved through the state legislature

Maryland has finally taken two big steps for marijuana reform today. Among the many bills signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on Monday was SB 364, which decriminalized up to 10 grams of marijuana, and HB 881, which should allow the state to create a functioning medical marijuana system.

Under the new marijuana decriminalization law possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana by adults will be a civil instead of a criminal offense. The punishment will be only a $100 fine for a first offense and a $250 fine for a second offense. Three or more offenses will also require appearance in court and drug education. The law goes into effect October 1st of this year.

While Maryland technically adopted a medical marijuana law last year the restrictions made it medical marijuana in name only. It required the program be run through academic medical centers but none of the centers in the state were willing to take part, so the law was unlikely to ever benefit any patients.

This problem has now been fixed with HB 881 being signed into law. The new law instead relies on licensed medical marijuana treatment centers that will get marijuana from specially licensed growers. Thanks to the changes implemented Maryland should be able to develop a system that actually gets medical marijuanas to patients.

This makes Maryland the 21st state with a functional medical marijuana law, and the 10th state where it was approved through the state legislature.

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

Photo by Chuck Coker, used under Creative Commons license

Proof of a Pot Tourism Boost in Colorado

By: Friday April 11, 2014 10:45 am

The opening of the first recreational pot shops in Colorado seems to have created a noticeable boost to the state’s important tourism industry. According to Hotels.com, in the three months since the first marijuana shops opened the city of Denver has seen a dramatic 25 percent increase in hotel searches compared to the same three months last year.
Marijuana’s Effect on Denver Tourism

There is strong indication this increase was caused primarily by marijuana legalization because there was also a remarkable 73 percent increase in hotel searches for the weekend of April 18-20 compared to the same time last year. The day “4/20″ is as close as the country gets to a marijuana holiday. As a result several events are planned in the city that weekend.

Hotels.com is not the only travel site to find a significant increase in searches for Colorado. Hopper similarly showed a spike in flight searches to Denver immediately after the first stores opened at the beginning of January.

It would appear Americans aren’t just voting for legalization at the ballot box but also with their vacation dollars. It will be interesting to see how this aspect plays into the politics in other states. Politicians continuing on unpopular marijuana prohibition could cause their state’s tourism industry to suffer.

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

Pot-Friendly Colorado Has Two of the Top Ten Most Satisfied Cities

By: Friday April 11, 2014 9:10 am

Most Satisfied U.S. Communities

Marijuana reform friendly Colorado is apparently full of satisfied people according to Gallup. The Fort Collins-Loveland is the urban area where most people said they were satisfied with their local community from 2012-2013, and Boulder, CO took the fourth place spot. This gives Colorado the impressive honor of being the only state to have two cities in the top ten.

Half the data for Gallup’s analysis comes from 2013 when marijuana was legal for adults to use, possess and grow at home in Colorado.

I’m definitely not claiming marijuana legalization made people in Colorado noticeably more satisfied. After all, Fort Collins and Boulder have come in near the top in previous years, so they were pretty satisfied before legalization.

But looking at these numbers it should be hard for opponents to claim allowing adults to legally grow and consume marijuana at home has a detrimental effect on quality of life.

After legalization the people in Colorado’s major cities seem to be just as satisfied (if not slightly more satisfied) than they were before legalization. Everything seems to be going about as well as it did before.

The sky clearly hasn’t fallen, which is probably part of the reason why a growing number of Coloradans think legalization is a good idea.


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