In October, a non-partisan think tank called Third Way conducted online polls in order to gauge American support for marijuana policy reform. Support for legalization is regularly painted in the media as widely divided between party lines, but a closer look at the numbers reveals a different story.
Third Way’s poll findings concluded that 50 percent of Americans support recreational marijuana while 47 percent oppose. These numbers are closely in line with Pew Research polls that peg support in the United States at 52 percent. What the team at Third Way chose to focus on however, was the number of voters who are still sitting on the fence.
There is an overwhelming amount of support for medical marijuana from both parties, with collective support at a whopping 78 percent. It is quite surprising to see such a broad range of support when medical marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but most Americans agree that the federal government has no business telling states what to do. In fact, 67 percent of voters said that Congress should pass legislation giving states protection from overarching federal reach. A small segment, 21 percent, of those opposing the legality of marijuana still believe that Congress should pass laws to protect states where marijuana is legal.
In the overall sample, Third Way determined that Republicans, moderates, white females, and people over the age of 50 make up the majority of those still “sitting on the fence.” These voters will not be easily persuaded to go either way, but are perhaps the most important in terms of moving forward with marijuana policy reform. As we have seen in efforts like the Yes On 91 campaign in Oregon, these voters can be reached, educated and brought to the polls.
The messaging that will sway the opinions of the “marijuana middle” is still unclear, and it seems that there is no one-size-fits-all rhetoric. Messaging that illustrates America’s failed drug war and explains the compassionate use of marijuana for cancer patients seem to be front-runners, but this will not convince everyone that marijuana will work in their community. What is clear, is that this small group of individuals (the soccer moms and 50+ demographic) will need some convincing before they vote in favor of marijuana policy reform. Education and tight regulation of proposed legislation will be critical if proponents of policy reform want victories in 2016.
Photo Credit: gnarburger
As the trend of marijuana decriminalization continues in America, so too do the amount of people willing to admit that they’ve taken a puff or two in the past. According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, about 38% of Americans say that they have tried marijuana in their lives.
With more and more Americans willing to fess up to smoking, one begins to wonder where these smokers are dispersed throughout the country. According to a recent article, these states are rank among the highest for marijuana consumption per capita.
1. Alaska: Not who we expected to see at the top of the list. With over 68,000 people over 18 reporting marijuana use during in the past month, that means just over 13% of the Alaskan’s are lighting up. It’s a safe bet that this number will increase post-legalization.
2. Rhode Island: Another unlikely candidate for top stoner state. Just under 13% of Rhode Island’s small population said they’ve smoked in the last month.
3. Vermont: This nature-loving, organic, and hormone-free state is less of a surprise, but still beat out other states that have more progressive marijuana legislation.
4. Oregon: With new marijuana legislation in place, Oregon comes as no surprise as a weed-friendly state. Just over 12.4% of Oregonians have lighted up within the past 30 days. Now they’re doing it legally.
5. District of Columbia: We know it’s not a state, but DC ranks highly among places with high marijuana consumption. Over 10.5% of residents have smoked within the last calendar month.
6. Montana: Montana’s sparse population has some similarities to the freedom-loving, gun-toting state of Alaska. These states prize their personal liberties and smoking weed may be one of those liberties they enjoy most.
7. Colorado: The only surprise here is that Colorado wasn’t ranked higher. With tourists and residensts flocking to the state, it would come as no surprise to see CO jump up on the list in coming years.
8. Washington: Right behind Colorado both in legislation and consumption, this state will similarly keep it’s spot on this list. As WA begins to roll out retail locations, look for a bump in state consumption.
9. Massachusetts: Around 9.26% of these New Englanders say they use marijuana. The state is still working out their medical marijuana program and will likely continue to decriminalize in the next few years.
10. California: This state has an astounding 2.5 million marijuana users, but their population is similarly large. For a state that’s known for marijuana production and consumption, this came as the biggest surprise on the list.
As legalized marijuana continues to pick up steam in the United States, Mexico and it’s drug cartels are beginning to feel the effects. Larger quantities of marijuana are now being produced domestically, which is dropping the demand for Mexican weed.
Nabor is a 24-year-old pot grower in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa. In a recent interview with NPR, he told them, “Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90.” Now Nabor is only bringing in $30 to $40 per kilo, half or even a third of what he could have raked in before. Nabor says that if the United States continues the trend of legalization, it will put him out of business.
Nabor has been growing weed since the ripe age of 14. He talked with NPR about the dangers of growing the still-illegal plant, saying “If the army comes, you have to run or they’ll grab you.” And the risk is just barely outweighing the rewards already. Nabor says that when the $40 per kilo price drops to $20 per kilo, they will no longer be able to make money.
In a November 2012 study, the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness predicted up to a 30 percent decline in Mexican weed prices due to US decriminalization.
High times editor Daniel Vinkovetsky told NPR, “American pot smokers prefer American domestically grown marijuana to Mexican grown marijuana.” The higher quality, soaring potency, and legal access all factor in to why we’re buying American grown. The cheap Mexican weed is not cured or trimmed like American weed, is of much lower quality, and is usually compressed in order to smuggle it across the boarder.
Lawrence Payne, spokesman for the DEA says that it doesn’t stop there. Payne is reporting that now the demand has shifted, and some Mexican residents are purchasing legal weed from Colorado and smuggling it back south. The hope for Mexicans and Americans alike is to put an end to cartel violence. Whether US decriminalization can do that or not is still an open question.
Back in late October we told you about a marijuana breathalyzer being developed in Wheat Ridge, Colorado to address growing concerns over impaired driving in the state. This past week a new breathalyzer hit the market as pot entrepreneurs previewed their latest products and technologies at the National Marijuana Business Conference.
These breathalyzers go much further than what simple and inaccurate saliva or urine testings are able to by telling law enforcement if you have consumed marijuana within the last 2 hours.
Cannabix Technologies, who developed the breathalyzer, is aiming at marketing the device to law enforcement agencies across the country. Unfortunately for some, the company’s niché market will likely be states that take aim at marijuana users with extremely strict marijuana laws. CEO Rav Mlait said, “We’ll be targeting the states that have zero tolerance for having THC in your system.”
The breathalyzer is still in development stage and plans to hit the market in 2015. Devices of this nature will continue to emerge and evolve in an effort to keep our drivers and our roads safe. It’s safe to say that as changes in marijuana policy sweep the nation, so will the technologies that support the emerging industry.
With last week’s changes to marijuana legislation in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC, it’s fair to say that legalization is in the front of many minds. Aljazeera has broken it down for us with their recent infographic showing where it’s legal, how much pot you can posses in newly legal states, and where it might be legalized next. The graphs show that marijuana support has risen from just 12% back in 1969 to 52% today. This distinctive change in the tides will certainly fuel more policy reform in the coming 2016 election year.