Saturday, December 8, 2012

Poll: feds should back off pot legalizing states

USA Today:

In a USA Today/Gallup Poll, those surveyed say by almost 2-1, 63%-34%, that the federal government shouldn't take steps to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that legalize pot.

The question took on some urgency Thursday as Washington became the first state to legalize the possession of marijuana for recreational purposes. Just after midnight, hundreds of celebrants lit joints at the base of Seattle's Space Needle.

A similar law is scheduled to take effect January in Colorado, where voters last month also approved a ballot measure legalizing the manufacture, distribution and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older.

That puts both states in conflict with federal law, which lists pot in the same Schedule 1 category as heroin and LSD. "The department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle said in a written statement. "Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress."

Still unclear is precisely how, and how aggressively, federal law enforcement officials plan to proceed.

The poll finds no national groundswell to decriminalize marijuana. Support for legalization has risen dramatically since 1969, when Gallup found Americans opposed the idea by 84%-12%. But levels of support actually have dipped a tad from last year, when 50% supported legalization and 46% opposed it.

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