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Support for Marijuana Legalization Reaches New Heights

Support for Marijuana Legalization Reaches New Heights

Author: Justin Mckibben

Marijuana has taken on a new life in the culture of America. As reforms have begun to spring up in many progressive states all over the nation, more and more politicians are developing policies in support of efforts for legalization of marijuana, be it for medical use only or even recreational consumption.

While marijuana is no longer considered by many to be the ‘gateway drug’ it was once revered as, especially compared to nicotine, it still comes with the implications of serious risks to the addict in recovery. So does this growing support for marijuana legalization and reform mean disaster for the recovering addict?

What kind of support are we talking? Well according to the recent numbers marijuana legalization is reaching new heights in avocation. A new poll released last week is now showing nearly 6 out of every 10 Americans are actually in favor of marijuana legalization.

The Growing Trend

As far as the trend of support for marijuana legalization goes, the nation has seen some periodic shifts in public opinion favoring marijuana reforms.

  • In 1969 just 12% of Americans supported marijuana
  • In 1977 marijuana support it reached 28%

Decreased for some time after 1977 before the mid-’80s when marijuana reach an upswing of support again.

  • In 2001 34% of Americans favored marijuana legalization
  • 2009 the population favoring marijuana legalization skyrocketed to 44%

In 2012 and 2014 marijuana legalization support actually declined, but the decrease did not last for long; Both 2013 and 2015 saw 58% of respondents favored marijuana legalization.

Pot Politics

Some of these previous polls even went so far as to show how a person’s age and political affiliation could typically be predictive of their stance on marijuana legalization.

Of course, seeing as how it is essentially a part of liberal politics, what these polls noted was that the most support for marijuana legalization comes from:

  • Younger Americans
  • Democrats
  • Independents

Older Americans and Republicans have usually been less likely to support marijuana legalization.

One thing that might actually surprise some people is young people have not always been tremendously supportive of marijuana legalization.

  • In 1969 only 20% of survey subjects between the ages of 20 and 34 years old favored legalization.
  • Today 71% in that age group are legalization supporters
  • In 1969, just 4% of senior citizens approved of legalizing
  • Today 35% of senior citizens support marijuana legalization

So while the trend has grown a lot, the demographic seems to have shifted here and there, sometimes being less predictable than one might expect.

Change… Is Better?

The big question is, is this better?

Is changing the laws to be more accommodating for marijuana use a good idea, or is it putting more people at risk unnecessarily? Well there are a few ways to look at it.

First, the strain the current practices many insist are being put on the system as far as over-incarceration, funding a failing drug war, and not providing enough rehabilitation for those convicted of nonviolent drug crimes is a huge factor for some people.

Just last year alone there were more than 700,000 marijuana arrests in the United States; that is one every 45 seconds! ,” Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement:

“The latest poll results point to the absurdity and even venality of persisting with harsh prohibitionist policies. No other law is enforced so harshly and pervasively yet deemed unnecessary by so many Americans. Spending billions of dollars and arresting 700,000 people annually for violating marijuana laws now represents not just foolish public policy but also an inappropriate and indecent use of police powers.”

People close to the opinion of Nadelmann insist that these most recent numbers on the public opinion only support the statement that these resources and finances are being wasted to pursue actions against people that quite frankly most of them don’t agree with in the first place.

Marijuana legalization advocates also insist a more effective system needs to be put in place to support those who do suffer from some form of drug abuse and dependency.

So when we think about how the dangers of allowing a drug to be legalized could impact those suffering from addiction, it is fair enough to say that what the pro-legalization groups believe is that legalizing it or not will not change an addicts mind, but what will change them is pouring some of the funds and resources used to pursue marijuana could be spent on helping provide more holistic and innovative treatment options to people so critically lost in drug abuse.

Addiction does not care what is legal and what is not, and in my experience neither does the addict. Are we exposed to new risk- possibly. But real lasting recovery doesn’t care about whether a drug is legal or not either, because the drug is just a symptom of a much deeper illness.

Although marijuana is becoming legal both recreationally and medically, the legalization of a drug doesn’t make much difference to an addict. Addiction is still dangerous regardless of the drug, but there is real help out there to break away from whatever holds you back. 

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