Opinion Brief

Are Americans ready to legalize pot?

A new poll puts support for decriminalizing marijuana at a record high

Legalize it? Half of Americans want to. Support for marijuana legalization now outweighs opposition, for the first time since Gallup began polling the issue 42 years ago. Fifty percent of Americans say pot use should be legal, while 46 percent say it should be prohibited. Compare that to 1969, when just 12 percent of Americans wanted to legalize pot, compared to a whopping 84 percent who were opposed. Will a groundswell of support for pot legalization be enough to change the country's drug laws?

America has reached the tipping point: Why not legalize pot? says Henry Blodget at Business Insider. Doing so would create a legal, multibillion-dollar industry that would generate tens of thousands of jobs. Plus, "getting stoned is certainly no more disruptive to society than getting smashed, which millions of Americans do every day." Smoking pot is also no more harmful to a person's health than smoking cigarettes. And now a majority of the country seems to realize it. 
"50 percent of American want to legalize pot"

Legalization may not be imminent, but it's coming: We shouldn't necessarily just legalize a drug because a majority of Americans support it, says Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy. "Majority opinion is wrong about a great many things, in part because of the influence of political ignorance." But the trend in public opinion does signal that legalization is likely. Once public support reaches 60 or 70 percent — which is perhaps just a decade away — "the status quo is likely to become politically untenable," despite near-certain lobbying against legalization from "prison guard unions, construction firms that build prisons, and various government contractors."
"Public support for marijuana legalization hits 50 percent for the first time"

Don't light up just yet: Our political leaders don't seem eager to legalize pot, says Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. Despite Obama's early promise to support medical marijuana users and growers, DEA raids have continued on his watch. Mitt Romney is opposed to medical marijuana, Rick Perry says it should be a state issue, and Herman Cain has no position. Libertarians Ron Paul and Gary Johnson support legalization — and they're viewed as fringe figures because of it. By 2016, perhaps presidential candidates will embrace legalization. But it's highly unlikely this time around.
"Is the drug war almost over? Half of Americans support legal marijuana"

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