Half of Americans support alternatives to full marijuana legalization: poll
Half of Americans now support alternatives to full legalization of recreational marijuana use, according to a new poll following the Justice Department’s decision to change the federal law enforcement policy on the drug.
A new poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy found that that 49 percent of likely voters support full legalization of marijuana, while 50 percent support alternative measures such as decriminalizing possession of the drug or allowing it for medical reasons.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era directive known as the Cole memo this month that had deprioritized enforcement of federal marijuana policy.
Half of the respondents in the new poll also said that they would support the enforcement of federal marijuana laws as long as individuals were not subject to fines or criminal convictions for possession, while 42 percent opposed federal enforcement.
“This poll shows that we need to move beyond this false dichotomy between prohibition and legalization, especially for individual users,” said Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group focused on educating the public on the dangers of marijuana use.
“These results clearly indicate the oft-touted vast public support for marijuana legalization has a shakier foundation than marijuana investors would have you believe. This should give pause to politicians and marijuana financiers alike,” Sabet said.
Many are unsure whether Sessions’s move to rescind the memo, under which eight states legalized recreational use of the drug, will make any real changes to how the federal government deals with states on the issue.
A previous Pew Research poll taken after the Justice Department’s change showed that 61 percent of people surveyed were in favor of legalizing sales of the drug.
The Mason-Dixon poll surveyed 1,000 random participants from Jan. 10 to 13, with a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.