Support for legalization of marijuana is quickly getting higher.

A local survey of whether people think marijuana should be legalized conducted on The Journal’s Facebook page showed the majority of respondents support marijuana legalization, as did 50 percent of Americans according to a national Gallup survey conducted last month.

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While half of Americans believe marijuana should become legal, 46 percent do not and 4 percent are undecided, according to Gallup.

A recent Facebook survey brought in 19 comments from current and past residents of the International Falls area showing support for legalization of marijuana in general or for medicinal purposes only. One respondent spoke against legalization.

“Legalize it — tax it and pay off the national debt, or create some much-needed jobs,” one local respondent wrote.

“It is the least harmful of any of the drugs currently being used for recreational purposes, including alcohol,” said another. “The extraordinary amounts of tax dollars that are being spent in an attempt to win the war on recreational use could much better be used for many things.”

That respondent added that the figures from the Gallup poll “may be close,” but “the only way to know for sure is to put it to a vote on a national level. I believe the numbers would be much larger for legalization.”

Gallup surveyed a total of more than 1,000 Americans from all 50 states. When Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana in 1969, 12 percent of Americans favored it. Support remained low to the mid-1990s, but has crept up since, passing 30 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 2009 before reaching the 50 percent level in this year’s Gallup annual crime survey.

A local survey respondent on the Ifalls Journal Facebook page received many “likes” when she wrote, “Despite prohibition, marijuana is the largest cash crop in the U.S. The war on marijuana costs approximately 42 billion dollars annually, clogs up court systems and diverts attention from more serious crimes. Marijuana also has medicinal qualities, and is much safer and more effective than many pharmaceutical alternatives. Marijuana is non-toxic, non-addictive and is safer than alcohol, or tobacco. Taxing marijuana would channel money leaving the country that currently supports smuggling, and foreign drug cultivation to a U.S. government resource. Despite federal prohibition in the U.S., states are one-by-one legalizing it.”

One local respondent was against legalization out of concern for children, writing, “It is a drug that impairs the mind! People can say what they want, but it’s still a drug, keep it away from our kids and off the streets! People should be ashamed to think about legalizing it!!! Just ask yourself, would you want your kid smoking it then getting behind the wheel? I love my child more than that! ..I am guilty of trying marijuana and alcohol and it did have those affects on me! I have learned from this and hope I can teach my children along with other children not to use!”

Another local person suggested legalizing it and taxing it like alcohol and setting an age limit, saying “whether it’s legal or not, people still have access to it.”

A Gallup survey last year found that 70 percent of Americans favored making marijuana legal for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain. Americans have consistently been more likely to favor the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes than to favor its legalization generally, according to Gallup.

The local survey respondents echoed this, with one respondent writing, “I believe medical marijuana should be legal. People with chronic pain due to cancer, MS, life-changing injuries, etc. should have access to this medication.” Another added, “The companies who make alcohol pay big money to government to keep it easily accessible to people. Marijuana has medical properties that can help people dealing with legitimate illnesses.”

According to the advocacy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, marijuana is the third-most-popular recreational drug in America, behind only alcohol and tobacco.

Young people, ages 18-29, support the legalization at 69 percent while those over the age of 65 have a 31 percent approval rate of legalizing marijuana. The Gallup survey also found those living in the Midwest and West are more likely to favor legalization than those living in the South.

Some states have decriminalized marijuana’s use, some have made it legal for medicinal use, and some officials, including former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, have called for legalizing its use, according to information from Gallup.

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The Gallup results are summarized in a “bottom line” section, concluding, “If this current trend on legalizing marijuana continues, pressure may build to bring the nation’s laws into compliance with the people’s wishes.”

Source: Journal, The (International Falls, MN)
Copyright: 2011 International Falls Journal
Contact: International Falls Journal – News, sports, politics and blogs from International Falls, Minnesota | 218-285-7411
Website: International Falls Journal – News, sports, politics and blogs from International Falls, Minnesota | 218-285-7411