17 October 2011

Obama Politically Tone Deaf On Marijuana

The Obama Adminstration picked this month to make a significant shift on its policy towards medical marijuana, with the U.S. attorneys in California declaring a policy of cracking down even on state licensed dispenaries, and other screw tighening measures aimed at banks and marginal medical marijuana providers in Colorado.

Meanwhile, public opinion towards marijuana is more favorable than it has been at any time in the last 42 years. Most Americans surveyed favor legalizing marijuana and 7 out of 10 favor legal medical marijuana:

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. . . . A Gallup survey last year found that 70% favored making it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana in order to reduce pain and suffering. Americans have consistently been more likely to favor the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes than to favor its legalization generally.

The California Medical Association last week came out in favor, not just of medical marijuana legalization, but of marijuana legalization generally. This is an opinion trend not just limited to a bunch of ex-hippies.

And, those who favor legalizing marijuana and medical marijuana are disproportionately not yellow dog Republicans. About 57% of Democrats favor marijuana legalization as do about 57% of political independents, while just 35% of self-identified Republicans favor marijuana legalization. Support for full legalization is overwhelming among people who might ever conceivably vote to re-elect President Obama, while opposition in concentrated among those who would never dream of casting a vote for President Obama. Given the lack of a difference between Democrats and Independents on marijuana legalization, it is safe to assume that significantly more than 70% of each of these groups back medical marijuana (if the increase in support is proportionate across the board about 80%), while more than 35% of Republicans also favor medical marijuana (if the increase in support is proportionate across the board about 49%).

What in the world is the Obama Administration thinking on this issue politically?

1 comment:

Dave Barnes said...

Barack does not/will not be portrayed as "soft on crime".