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Poll Shows Half of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana

Saturday, October 22, 2011


The number of Americans supporting the legalization of marijuana is higher than the number opposed for the first time ever, according to a new Gallup poll. But Rhode Islanders still won’t be seeing any medical marijuana compassion centers opening any time soon.

The poll results, released on October 17, show that 50% of Americans, a record high, support legalizing marijuana, with 46% against it. When Gallup first asked this question in 1969, it was only supported by 12% of Americans. From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, the percentage hovered around 25%, and between 2000 and today it grew from 30% to 50%. The number of people who support legalizing the drug is inversely proportional to age, and men, Democrats, and people not from the South are more likely to support it as well.

However, the direction that marijuana legislation has taken in Rhode Island does not reflect these high national numbers. On September 29, Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that he was halting the state’s plans to license three medical marijuana dispensaries. His reason was that the state law allowing for the centers is illegal under federal law, and so the centers could become targets of federal civil and criminal enforcement efforts. This plan has been months in the making and Chafee hopes to bring the law up again soon with the general assembly, but right now it seems the public pension system is more of a priority.

Not a Priority For Governor

JoAnne Leppanen, the executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC), said, “We are exasperated with the governor. We know he is supportive of medical marijuana, but the path he has taken is outrageous and frustrating. It is frustrating beyond what I can express.” She continued, “It’s not a priority to him. I don’t think he understands that real people are suffering now. It is unforgivable to treat the citizens of the state this way.”

Last year, a Gallup survey found that 70% of Americans supported legalizing the prescription of medical marijuana to reduce pain and suffering, and Americans have generally been more favorable towards the use of marijuana medicinally than as a legalized recreational drug.

In response to these polls, Leppanen said, “Those numbers don’t surprise me. I think a poll like that in Rhode Island would produce even higher numbers. Because it’s such a small state, everyone seems to know someone who is in the program, or someone who has suffered from a disease that could be helped by medical marijuana.” She added, “I never run into people opposed to it here, even someone you’d expect, because people don’t want to see other people suffer. The medical form is non-toxic, and given the natural and benign nature of it, it is gaining popularity at a steady pace.” She also made clear that the more people associate medicinal marijuana with recreational marijuana, the less support it will be given, and people need to understand the distinction between the two.

State Rep: Poll Reflects Failure of National Drug Laws

Democratic state representative Scott Slater has been a strong advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana in Rhode Island, speaking at protest rallies and following his late father Rep. Thomas C. Slater’s footsteps in championing the legislation. Regarding this latest national poll, he said, “I believe the recent poll numbers on legalization of marijuana reflect a growing understanding of the failure of our national drug laws and the recognition of marijuana's medical value. I believe too many people, particularly those who are poor or live in minority communities, have been permanently harmed by the senseless scheduling of marijuana by our federal government."

As for its implications for Rhode Island, he said, "I find it equally troubling that a state like Rhode Island, that has recognized the medical benefits of marijuana, still faces the imposing threat of federal intervention when we simply try to open a small number of non-profit facilities where patients can get medicine. Based on the recent Gallup poll, it appears that the majority of Americans are tired of our government's marijuana laws. Hopefully, those at the federal level will soon end this failure of public policy."

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donatello gori

Gov. Goober is more concerned about letting illegals in and keeping them here first.

pearl fanch

golocal, at it again. Reporting on something totally ridiculous.
So the pot heads want to legalize marijuana? I bet the crack heads want to legalize crack. Should we expect that poll next?
Why don't you tell us how the illegal immigrants feel about deportation.
Captains of the obvious.

David Beagle

The governor is afraid of trouble from the Feds if he allows licensing of dispensaries. Why isn't he equally worried abut trouble from the Feds over his support of illegal immigrants?

Bruno Amicci

So pearl fanch is an alcoholic who does not respect opinion polls or democracy. Thank God that alcoholics die young!

E.J. Dunn

The governor is a political animal and a hypocrite.
The medical aspects of marijuana -- for example, relieving the toll chemotherapy takes on cancer patients -- don't interest him. But there may be a political advantage in allowing illegal immigration within Rhode Island's borders.
Selective law enforcement damages respect for all laws, but that doesn't interest the governor either.
Has he brought up his willingness to tax food lately?

Wuggly Ump

Prohibition doesn't work, never has never will. The only thing it does is give the government more power. I see no reason marijuana shouldn't be treated like alcohol, sell it in the package stores.

Jonathan Flynn

P. Fanch is vacuous.

pearl fanch

Ok, let's chat about "medical" marijuana....and how it's currently being handled.
I know of 4 people who currently have a license to grow it....because they've been told they have glaucoma. Each of these kids are 21 - 25 years old, and NONE of them have glaucoma. Their license allows them to be "caregivers" for, I think it's either 2 or 3 different people each. That means, they're allowed to sell it.....and they do!!!!
So in all actuality, the government has licensed these kids to become drug dealers. This isn't me calling them drug dealers, they say it themselves. They laugh about it, and think it's great. They spend most of their time getting stoned.

Now I do understand how it can help cancer patients, and I'm all for that. I've had way too much cancer in my family, to not be compassionate.

But the way the system is now, it's not working properly. Allowing the potheads to ride the same train as the patients who truly can use the benefits of marijuana, just is not right.

By the way, I don't drink or smoke. Never have.

pearl fanch

Now you can eat sh*t and die, you waste of skin.

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