Marijuana Legalization

Election Day 2012 saw voter initiatives in several states on marijuana legalization. Colorado and Washington became the first US states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday in defiance of federal law, setting the stage for a showdown with the federal government. Medical marijuana measures were on the ballot in three other states. In Massachusetts, supporters issued a statement declaring victory for what they described as “the safest medical marijuana law in the country.” Seventeen other states, plus the District of Columbia, already have medical marijuana laws on their books. In Arkansas, a measure that would have made it the first state in the South to legalize marijuana for medical purposes appeared was defeated. In Oregon, a measure to remove criminal penalties for personal possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis was also defeated.

A newly released Quinnipiac University poll shows that American voters favor the legalization of marijuana, 51% to 44%, with a substantial gender and age gap. The poll states that men support legalization 59% to 36%, but women are opposed 52% to 44%. The racial split is barely noticeable on this question with 50% of white voters and 57% of black voters backing legalization. Those who are 18 to 29 years old support legalization 67% to 29% while voters over age 65 are opposed 56% to 35% and those who 30 to 44 years old like the idea 58% to 39%, while voters 45 to 64 years old are divided 48% to 47%.

The Brooklyn Law School Library has on order a book by retired police officer Howard Rahtz, Drugs, Crime and Violence: From Trafficking to Treatment, which examines the history of drug abuse and provides a unique perspective on the drug war. It covers all aspects of the “war on drugs” to help readers become well-informed and capable of developing an educated reasonable conclusion. Chapters include Drugs, Crime and Violence — The Illegal Drug Market — Learning From the Past — Policy Options — An International Perspective — Drug Abuse-The Damage Done — Addiction: The Driving Force behind the Illegal Market — Marijuana-The Cartel’s Cash Cow — From Trafficking to Treatment — The Costs of Policy Paralysis — A New Direction.