Poll: Even split on marijuana legalization

Americans are evenly split over whether marijuana should be legalized, but far more Americans believe legalization is a matter for states to decide than for the federal government, according to a new CBS News poll.

The poll released last week found 47 percent of Americans favor legalization while 47 percent oppose it. And 59 percent believe whether to legalize marijuana should be left up to each individual state to decide, while 34 percent say it should be a matter for the federal government to decide.

But that support for state jurisdiction actually has declined from 62 percent in September. In the interim, Washington State and Colorado voters last month approved ballot measures to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana use for people age 21 and up. A similar measure in California – Proposition 19 of 2010 – was rejected by voters; California has no proposed ballot measures or legislative bills on marijuana legalization currently pending.

Still, drug reformers take the poll as proof that states should be allowed to make their own choices.

“The big question on everyone’s mind is – how will the federal government respond to the decisive victories in Colorado and Washington?” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a news release. “What this new poll shows is that Americans believe that states should be able to move forward with the responsible regulation of marijuana. The Obama administration would be wise to allow them to do so.”

This CBS News poll was conducted by telephone from Nov. 16-19 among 1,100 adults nationwide, including both land-line and cell phones; it has a three-percentage-point margin of error.

Other polls over recent years have shown a slow but steady trend in favor of legalization.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    I call it Stupid Weed. Smoking it makes people stupid, lazy & belligerent. The good thing about stupid weed is: It’s addiction is easy to kick. No shakes or withdrawal sickness like alcohol & many drugs.
    The problem with stupid weed is: People start smoking it before breakfast & don’t stop until bedtime. Stupid & lazy all day. Yeah! Total boredom is more fun, for bored, boring people.
    When the advocates for decriminalization really want to succeed, they will advocate sending all of the tax revenues from the sale of weed, to education. This education has to start young. Ask first graders if they want to succeed in life. People who worship stupid weed are not likely to ever get a good education or job. “I was stoned and I missed it” was a fitting old song. Yes Josh. I am old enough to remember that song. Hopefully I’m not old enough to take a telephone survey.
    The main reason weed remains illegal is: It’s easy money for police, D. A’s, judges, prison guards, drug sellers & any combination of the above.