By Mark Wachtler
April 15, 2014. Washington. (ONN) When Colorado began selling marijuana as freely as the state sells alcohol, the world didn’t explode and pot zombies didn’t appear. Instead, a fortune in tax revenue appeared. Vacationers have ditched the coasts for the mountains and hundreds of thousands of Americans with varying medical conditions are packing their bags to move to their new Rocky Mountain home. And a new poll says the rest of the country is ready for marijuana legalization too.
Counting full legalization and legalization for medical use, this number is now up to 83%. Image courtesy of Patients 4 Medical Marijuana blog.
Before the actual economic results of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana have been fully calculated, the results have been obvious. Tax revenues are up by hundreds of millions of dollars. Hotel reservations are up roughly 50% year-over-year. And travel agents are showing a similar spike in airline travel to the state. When America’s national marijuana holiday - April 20 - arrives this weekend, Colorado will be ground zero for the biggest celebration in recent memory.
Poll says America favors legalization
Forget medical marijuana or even decriminalization. With Colorado now the only state in the nation with two cities in the top ten for having the most happy citizens, a recent poll shows that a national marijuana legalization law is rapidly approaching.
The poll was conducted by Pew Research and published by Associated Press. The results show that even among Americans who oppose marijuana legalization, they overwhelmingly believe it will happen anyway. A full 75% of respondents said marijuana will become legal nationwide some time soon. The survey also provided the following breakdown showing America’s opinion toward legalization:
The AP report interviewed a few random Colorado residents for their reactions. One citizen who supports legalization said, “If marijuana isn't legalized, it fills up the jails, and that's just stupid." Supporting that notion is the fact that America imprisons the largest percentage of its own population than any other country on Earth. Drug offenses represent a large number of those convictions.
The legalization campaign continues
Brian Sonenstein, campaign director for Just Say Now, says he believes 2014 will be the year that the tide completely reverses in America’s prohibition against marijuana. He cites a number of state initiatives and Bills that will decriminalize marijuana or make medical marijuana legal, “Ever since our landmark victories legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington State, the momentum behind reform has been incredible.”
The organization lists a number of states that will decide on new marijuana laws this year. Alaska, Rhode Island and Washington DC will vote on total legalization for adults. New York will decide on medical marijuana. And back in our nation’s capitol, supporters of marijuana reform will defend the city from a legal assault by the US Congress, which still governs the country’s only federal city and is still decades behind the times and steadfastly opposed to marijuana legalization. Legal marijuana will cut billions in profits from the world’s pharmaceutical corporations, which have donated millions to America’s Congressmen from both parties.
NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, is the granddaddy of all marijuana reform organizations and has been fighting this battle since your 43-year-old author was a teenager. And with a video of the group’s 20th anniversary event being from 1990, it suggests the group has been around since at least 1970. So it should be no surprise that NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano is on the frontline of the fight today.
A warning to Republicans
NORML’s Armentano commented on the recently announced poll numbers and had a warning for Republican lawmakers determined to try and thwart the will of 83 percent of the American people. “Elected officials who continue to push for the status quo - the notion that cannabis ought to be criminalized and that the consumers of cannabis ought to be stigmatized and punished - are holding on to a fringe position that is increasingly out-of-step with their constituents' beliefs,” he warned.
The recent poll from Pew Research would seem to back him up and clearly shows the Republican Party to be the most out-of-step with the American people. With support for marijuana legalization growing rapidly among all groups, the following voter demographics show which segments are ahead of the political curve (from NORML):
Marijuana legalization supporters hope 2014 will be the year that cannabis becomes decriminalized, and maybe even legal nationwide. But it would literally take an act of Congress and the support of President Obama for that to happen. And as is the case with most issues these days, both stand staunchly opposed to the wishes of the American people with the decriminalization of marijuana not even on their radar.
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