Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a renowned anti-cannabis legalization group, recently released a new poll on the population’s views on federal marijuana law. Conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling, the verdict showed an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose current federal policy.
The poll asked 1,000 registered voters their opinion on different legalization options, rather than a simple yes-or-no response.
The options were:
- Keep current policy (which prohibits possessing and using cannabis for any purpose).
- Legalizing “physician-supervised medical use.”
- Decriminalizing pot by removing criminal penalties for use and allowing medical, but prohibiting sales.
- Legalizing the commercial production, use, and sale of marijuana for recreational use.
Only 16 percent favored keeping the current federal laws, 5 percent supported decriminalization, and 1 percent were not sure. Full legalization was backed by 49 percent, while 29 percent backed only medical.
The response from registered Republicans was also surprisingly progressive. Despite being predominantly more conservative on drug policy issues, only 25 percent of Republicans favored keeping current federal policy. About 72 percent supported either medical marijuana legalization or full legalization, which was split evenly at 36 percent each.
Overall, 83 percent of Americans opposed the current federal stance, which is a rarity in most polls.
The results demonstrate how U.S. politicians lag behind the public’s views on marijuana. The poll's single largest group supported legalization, while only a handful of lawmakers have supported legalization bills in Congress.
For instance, a bill to legalize marijuana federally, but would allow states to maintain their own prohibitions, only has a single sponsor and 25 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, which includes more than 400 legislators.
Another bill that would prohibit federal law enforcement from interfering in legalized states only has one sponsor and 40 cosponsors support.
Currently, federal prosecutors are able to go after businesses and users in states where marijuana is legal, due to Jeff Sessions' repeal of the Obama-era Cole Memo. This decision exemplifies why federal cannabis policy has remained at a standstill despite its lack in popularity.