A couple weeks ago, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Coorespondent has spoken out in support of easing access to Medical Marijuana, reversing his prior views on the substance. His research spanned the globe discovering that Marijuana is largely a harmless drug with few serious long-term side-effects. He noted that most of the medical opinions the Federal Controlled Substance Act uses to maintain bans on Marijuana come from outdated reports from the 1970s that were never updated.
Making Medical Marijuana legal in all 50 states is a first step, but American’s really want legalized recreational marijuana. Legalizing Medical Marijuana is an attempt by state law-makers to satisfy the growing chorus among their voters to legalize the drug altogether. Pew Research reports 52 percent believe marijuana should be legal for the first time in history.
The Pew Research 2013 shows marijuana legalization demographics by race, gender and political party:
Age: 18-29 64% 30-49 55% 50-64 53% 65-older 33%
Race: Black 56% White 52% Hispanic 51%
Gender: Men 57% Women 47%
Voters: Dem 59% Repub 37%
Women and older people are the least comfortable being around marijuana in comparison with younger men. Republicans are overwhelming against legalization which mirrors the tougher laws found in predominately red states. Liberal voting states in the West and Northeast are leading the push for legalization of either Medical Marijuana or recreational adult access.
An August 14 report quotes the New York City Comptroller Liu stating, “It’s time for us to implement a responsible alternative. Regulating marijuana would keep thousands of New Yorkers out of the criminal justice system, offer relief to those suffering from a wide range of painful medical conditions, and make our streets safer by sapping the dangerous underground market that targets our children. As if that weren’t enough, it would also boost our bottom line.” In the same report, he estimates the city could save $400 million dollars that could be diverted to other areas such as education.
Police arrested 757,969 people in 2011 for marijuana related offenses. Marijuana arrests are one-half of all drug arrests reported in the United States. Over 80 percent of those arrest were only for possession related charges. Colorado and Washington State garnered enough votes to legalize recreational marijuana, so their arrest rates will likely see a sharp decrease for simple possession. After Proposition 19 passed in California, arrests for marijuana possession plummeted by 86 percent, from 54,900 in 2010 to 7,800 in 2011. A reduction in arrests of any type, saves taxpayer dollars, police resources and reduces prison over-crowding. The cost savings alone, may cause more states to follow suit and pass limited legalization or decriminalization laws.