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Posted by on Oct 17, 2011 in Law, Society | 16 comments

50% of Americans Favor Legalizing Pot

To be blunt,that number has never been, uh, higher:

PRINCETON, NJ — A record-high 50% of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 46% last year. Forty-six percent say marijuana use should remain illegal.
When Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana, in 1969, 12% of Americans favored it, while 84% were opposed. Support remained in the mid-20s in Gallup measures from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but has crept up since, passing 30% in 2000 and 40% in 2009 before reaching the 50% level in this year’s Oct. 6-9 annual Crime survey.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop, comments:

The Obama administration’s escalation of the ‘war on drugs’ and its attacks on state medical marijuana laws are only giving more and more Americans the opportunity to realize just how ridiculous and harmful our prohibition-based drug laws are. These numbers from Gallup, as well as the California Medical Association’s recent endorsement of marijuana legalization, show that momentum is on the side of reformers, so it’s no wonder the drug warriors are getting scared and ramping up their attacks. People are clearly waking up to the fact that we can no longer afford the fiscal and human costs of this failed ‘war on drugs.’ Savvy politicians would do well to take heed.

Business Insider’s Henry Blodget:

And why not legalize it?

Legalizing pot will create a new multi-billion dollar (legal) industry and create tens of thousands of (legal) jobs.

Stephen Smith, reflecting on Ken Burns’ Prohibition:

As with alcohol in the 1920s, when Prohibition was foisted on cities by small towns, today’s anti-drug policies are most popular among white suburban and rural conservatives. Urban voters, who bear the brunt of the damage of America’s misguided drug policies, are more liberal and likely to favor reforms like marijuana legalization and needle exchanges, but just like their predecessors who opposed Prohibition, they are forced to acquiesce to the federal war on drugs.

Race as a factor, then:

Prohibition was a tool that the white South could use to keep down the black population. In fact, they used Prohibition really to keep liquor away from black people but not from white people.

And now:

More people are arrested in New York City on charges of possessing small amounts of marijuana than on any other crime on the books. Nearly all are black or Latino males under the age of 25, most with no previous convictions. Many have never been arrested before.