Poll: Feds Should Leave Legal Marijuana States Aloneby Phillip Smith
Feb. 04, 2013
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Strong majorities of Americans believe people should be able to use, grow, and sell marijuana in states where it is legal, according to a new Reason Foundation-Rupe poll. Nearly three out of four (72%) said pot smokers should not be arrested in those states, more than two-thirds (68%) said the federal government should not arrest growers in those states, and nearly two-thirds (64%) said it should not arrest sellers.
The poll comes in the wake of last November's marijuana legalization victories in Colorado and Washington and as the Obama administration contemplates its response. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The poll consisted of a representative sample of 1,000 American adults interviewed by telephone, half by landline and half by cell phone. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.8%.It was conducted between January 17 and 21.
Although it is Republicans who typically make states' rights or federalist arguments, Republicans had the highest level of support for federal interference in states that have legalized marijuana. In all three cases -- using, growing, or selling marijuana -- independents and Democrats were more likely to say the federal government should not interfere.
The poll also asked two questions about marijuana legalization, one about whether it should be treated like alcohol and one about whether it should be legalized for recreational use. While the two questions are essentially identical, they generated slightly different responses, showing yet again that marijuana legalization is on the cusp of majority acceptance (and that the phrasing of polling questions matters).
Some 53% agreed that marijuana should be treated like alcohol, but only 47% agreed that recreational use should be legalized. Majorities of Democrats (57%) and independents (58%), but not Republicans (35%), agreed with "like alcohol," while only a majority of independents (59%) supported legalization for recreational use, with support at only 46% for Democrats and 25% among Republicans.
Gender and age differences also remained. Support for legalization was higher among men (52%) than women (42%), and there was majority support for legalization among all age groups except people over 65, two-thirds of whom opposed it.