Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240</p>
Colorado, Oregon and Washington voters head to the polls tomorrow to decide the fate of ballot initiatives that would end marijuana prohibition in their respective states. A win at the ballot would be a first of its kind in U.S. history.
The latest polls show that slight majorities in Colorado and Washington support the initiatives. The Drug Policy Alliance and its electoral arm, Drug Policy Action, have worked closely with local and national allies to draft these initiatives, build coalitions and raise funds.
“A majority of Americans now appear to favor the legal regulation of marijuana. This is now a mainstream issue and the momentum favors reform,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Most Americans now realize that marijuana prohibition is a counterproductive strategy that funnels millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens into the criminal justice system while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. Many also understand that legally regulating marijuana will take power and profits out of the hands of criminal organizations both within this country and abroad while freeing up limited law enforcement resources.”
“If one of these initiatives passes, it will be a watershed moment in the decades-long struggle to end failed marijuana prohibition policies in this country,” said Nadelmann.
The initiatives have inspired an unprecedented coalition that includes traditional drug policy reformers, law enforcement, organized labor, advocates for fiscal responsibility, mainstream civil rights organizations, advocates for children, and people from across the political spectrum.
Never before has support for making marijuana legal been so widespread. Last year, a Gallup poll found for the first time that 50 percent of Americans support making marijuana legal, with only 46 percent opposed. Public support has shifted dramatically over the last two decades – especially over the last five years – as majorities of men, 18-49-year-olds, liberals, moderates, Independents, Democrats, and voters in Western, Midwestern and Eastern states now support making marijuana legal.
Last week, the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report found that police made 757,969 arrests in 2011 for marijuana law violations in the U.S. – 86 percent of these arrests were for possession only. Marijuana arrests comprise one-half of all U.S. drug arrests.