<p>Tony Newman (646) 335-5384<br />
Ethan Nadelmann (646) 335-2240</p>
According to a new Gallup poll, a majority of Americans continue to say marijuana use should be legal in the United States, with 58% in support, tying the high point in Gallup's 46 years of polling on the subject. These results are consistent with other state and national polls, both public and private, in recent months.
With 7 in 10 young adults supporting legalization, and senior citizens now alone as the only age group opposing legalization, it is likely that local and state governments will continue to face increasing pressure to legally regulate marijuana.
Despite public opinion, levels of arrests for marijuana remain near their all-time peaks. In 2014 there were 700,993 arrests for marijuana in the United States – one every 45 seconds – and the vast majority of these arrests were for simple possession. Marijuana use and selling occur at similar rates across racial and ethnic groups, yet black and Latino individuals are arrested for possessing or selling marijuana at vastly disproportionate rates. In fact, black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people.
In November of 2012, residents of Colorado and Washington took the historic step of deciding to permit the legal regulation of marijuana cultivation and sales for adults 21 and older. Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. voted to legalize marijuana in 2014, and other states are likely to follow suit in the coming years. Encouraging signs of success have been documented in Colorado and Washington.
Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“The latest poll results point to the absurdity and even venality of persisting with harsh prohibitionist policies. No other law is enforced so harshly and pervasively yet deemed unnecessary by so many Americans. Spending billions of dollars and arresting 700,000 people annually for violating marijuana laws now represents not just foolish public policy but also an inappropriate and indecent use of police powers.”
“More elected officials need to realize that legalizing marijuana is not just the right thing to do – it’s the politically smart thing to do too.”
As support for marijuana reform increases and attitudes shift, the Drug Policy Alliance is encouraging news outlets to use images that accurately reflect modern-day marijuana consumers and has released free, open-license stock photos and B-roll footage for editorial use.