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USA: Support For Legalization Rises To 40 Percent (2002-11-13)
Pubdate: Wed, 6 Nov 2002
Source: Haleakala Times (HI)
Copyright: 2002 Haleakala Times
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Support For Legalization Rises To 40 Percent - More Than Doubling Since 1986

Eighty percent of Americans support the legal use of medicinal marijuana by
patients, and 72 percent say that adults who use marijuana recreationally
should be fined, but not jailed, according to a nationwide poll conducted
last week by Time Magazine and CNN. Only 19 percent of respondents favored
jailing recreational pot smokers.

"There is a consensus among the American public that the government's war on
marijuana is misguided, ineffective and unnecessarily punitive," said NORML
Executive Director Keith Stroup. "The public recognizes that adults who
smoke marijuana responsibly are not criminals and they do not want to spend
our nation's limited police resources arresting and jailing them."

In addition, 40 percent of respondents also said that they favored the
legalization of small amounts of marijuana. That figure is more than double
the percentage of Americans who endorsed legalization in 1986.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said they opposed the legalization of small
quantities of pot, and nine percent were unsure.

Stroup said that the shift in U.S. public opinion is indicative of a sea
change taking place worldwide regarding marijuana policy. "From Europe to
Australia to Canada, governments are recognizing that marijuana prohibition
is more damaging to society than marijuana use, and enacting reforms to
abolish criminal penalties for the responsible use of cannabis by adults.
Here in America, more and more people are coming to the conclusion that
marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, and should be legalized
and regulated similarly."

On November 5, Nevada voters will decide on a ballot initiative to eliminate
all criminal and civil penalties for the possession of up to three ounces of
pot. Polls indicate that Nevadans are evenly divided on the issue. In
September, a special Canadian Senate Committee report recommended Parliament
legalize and regulate the use and sale of marijuana to anyone age 16 and

According to the Time/CNN poll, 47 percent of Americans admit having tried
marijuana, up from 31 percent in 1983. This figure is dramatically higher
than the percentage reported by annual government surveys, which maintain
that only one-third of Americans have smoked marijuana.

However, most experts believe that federal surveys generally under-report
illicit drug use.

For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano
of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Previous polling data is available on the NORML
website at .