• May 5, 2015

SULLUM: The marijuana rebellion - Odessa American: Columnists

e-Edition Subscribe

SULLUM: The marijuana rebellion

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2012 6:40 pm

By the time the 21st Amendment ended national alcohol prohibition in December 1933, more than a dozen states had already opted out.

Maryland never passed its own version of the Volstead Act, while New York repealed its alcohol prohibition law in 1923. Eleven other states eliminated their statutes by referendum in November 1932.

We could see the beginning of a similar rebellion against marijuana prohibition this year as voters in three states — Washington, Colorado and Oregon — decide whether to legalize the drug's production and sale for recreational use. If any of these ballot initiatives pass, it might be the most consequential election result this fall, forcing both major parties to confront an unjust, irrational policy that Americans increasingly oppose.

With six weeks to go before Election Day, Oregon's Measure 80, which would establish a commission charged with licensing growers and selling marijuana through state-run stores, seems to be in trouble. In a SurveyUSA poll this month, only 37 percent of respondents said they planned to vote yes, while 41 percent were opposed and 22 percent were undecided.

But the other two initiatives are polling strongly. According to a SurveyUSA poll conducted two weeks ago, 57 percent of Washington voters favor Initiative 502, which would authorize private pot stores regulated by the state liquor commission; only 34 percent were opposed. A SurveyUSA poll completed on Sept. 12 found that 51 percent of Colorado voters support Amendment 64, which would allow home cultivation of up to six plants and create a licensing system for growers and retailers; 40 percent were opposed.

Neither of these measures is a sure thing by any means. California's Proposition 19, a marijuana legalization measure that was ultimately supported by 47 percent of voters in November 2010, polled above 50 percent in several surveys. But while the SurveyUSA approval number for Proposition 19 peaked at 56 percent in April 2010, dropping to 47 percent by September, support for the Washington and Colorado initiatives appears to be growing.

In the Colorado survey, supporters outnumbered opponents in every age group except respondents 65 or older, and Amendment 64 was ahead by 30 percentage points among respondents younger than 35.

These generational differences are clear in national survey data, as well. In a 2011 Gallup poll, 62 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds supported marijuana legalization, compared to 31 percent of respondents in the 65-and-up group.

Overall support for legalization in the Gallup survey was the highest it has ever been: 50 percent, compared to 12 percent in 1969 and the mid-to-high 20s during the Carter administration, which was later viewed as an especially pot-tolerant period.

A May Rasmussen survey put current support even higher: 56 of respondents said marijuana should be treated like alcohol, making pot legalization more popular than Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Rising support for legalizing marijuana parallels increasing experience with the drug. The federal government's survey data indicate that most American adults born after World War II have tried pot, an experience especially common among people now in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

That does not mean all these people are current marijuana consumers, eager for the lower prices, convenience, quality and variety promised by a legal market. But they, along with their friends and relatives, have had enough direct and indirect experience with cannabis to decide that prohibition costs more than it's worth.

As The Seattle Times observed in a recent editorial endorsing Initiative 502: "The question for voters is not whether marijuana is good.

It is whether prohibition is good." The voices rejecting prohibition in Washington and Colorado include city council members, state legislators, former U.S. attorneys, clergymen, retired cops and two national police organizations — a hard group to dismiss as a bunch of silly potheads, which is President Obama's usual approach to the issue.

If voters approve marijuana legalization in one or more states this November, that contemptuous attitude will no longer be tenable, no matter who wins the presidential election.

  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com. You will find full-length local stories with details you can't read anywhere else.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
Online Features

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of trips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness video product teaches you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>

Gas Prices

Gas Prices

Local gas prices from over 130,000 stations in the U.S., along with maps to each location. More >>

Horoscopes

Horoscopes

Featuring sun signs, the Chinese Zodiac, a love meter, star charts, daily astro picks, daily peak time, and much more. More >>




Monday 05/04/2015
Garden-Inspired Gifts for Mom
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift for a mom who has it all, or just the right way to express your love and appreciation, this Mother’s Day you can give a gift that keeps on growing with items inspired by the garden.

more »
Enjoy Backyard Family Time
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) A lush, healthy landscape is the perfect setting for making family memories. In fact, more than half of Americans say their yard is their favorite place at home to spend quality time with family.

more »
Energy-Efficient Renovation Tips
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) Picking paint colors and ogling kitchen remodels on Pinterest can be fun for homeowners looking to renovate. However, today’s homeowners are looking for upgrades that not only look great, but save money. Energy-efficiency improvements are a smart investment toward curbing energy use, cutting energy bills, and increasing the value of a home.

more »
Home Upgrades from the Inside Out
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) Looking to do some home improvement projects this spring? Plan ahead for the biggest impact for your budget.

more »
Get Your Yard Ready for Outdoor Fun
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) From impromptu dinners with pals to celebrating special events with family, warm weather adventures await in your own backyard. Before you invite the gang over to enjoy cocktails or a cookout, make sure your outdoor spaces give the right impression for enjoying those carefree summer moments.

more »
More Home Improvement