High Support for Medical Marijuana ABC News/Washington Post Poll: 81 Percent Support Legalizing Marijuana for Medical Use Credit: Getty Images
Eight in 10 Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use and nearly half favor decriminalizing the drug more generally, both far higher than a decade ago.
With New Jersey this week poised to become the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana, 81 percent in this national ABC News/Washington Post poll support the idea, up from an already substantial 69 percent in 1997. Indeed the main complaint is with restrictions on access, as in the New Jersey law.
Fifty-six percent say that if it's allowed, doctors should be able to prescribe medical marijuana to anyone they think it can help. New Jersey's measure, which is more restrictive than most, limits prescriptions to people with severe illnesses. State health officials can add to the list.
DECRIMINALIZE? – Apart from medical marijuana, there have been recent efforts to decriminalize marijuana more broadly in some states. A preliminary vote on one such measure is to be held in the Washington state Legislature this week. In California organizers say they've collected enough signatures to hold a statewide referendum on the issue next fall. And a separate proposal in California to legalize and tax the drug cleared a legislative committee last week. A Field poll there in April found 56 percent support for the idea, which its backers say would raise $1.3 billion a year.
A ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use in California has received enough signatures to place it before voters next year, organizers said.
The “Tax, Regulate and Control Cannabis Act of 2010” has garnered 680,000 signatures, more than the 433,971 required to be placed on the state’s ballot, said Salwa Ibrahim, a spokeswoman for the measure’s sponsor, Oaksterdam University in Oakland, which bills itself as “America’s first cannabis college.”
“We’re going to keep collecting signatures until we have to turn it in,” before the February deadline, Ibrahim said in an interview today. “They’re from all over the state of California.”
The measure, which must be certified by the secretary of state before it can officially be placed on the ballot, would allow adults 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and cultivate 25 square feet (2.3 square meters) for personal consumption, Ibrahim said. Cities and counties can decide how and if to tax commercial sales and cultivation.
“So for instance, in a Danville or Alamo, if they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, we do not want dispensaries or any of that in our communities,’ that’s fine, they don’t have to have it,” she said. “But a place like Oakland, where we desperately need the revenue, it would be a perfect fit.”
A Field Poll conducted in April showed that 56 percent of registered voters in California supported legalizing and taxing marijuana.
Medical Marijuana, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: MJNA) announces today the purchase of 20 acres of prime mountain valley property in Southern California intended to be used within strict governmental guidelines as a research facility targeting medical Cannabis strains specific to a wide range of medical conditions.
Today in California, a physician's medical cannabis recommendation is based on a patient's evaluation. However, the strain of medical Cannabis to be recommended, dosage and delivery methods must be refined and re-evaluated.
Many medical conditions are accepted by government as medical marijuana treatable. By diligently developing the most efficacious strains and matching those strains to ailments, MJNA will be poised as the industry leader in medical cannabis genetic research.
The War on Drugs continues, four decades after President Richard Nixon commenced hostilities. President Barack Obama--the third president in a row to have used illicit substances in his youth--is no drug warrior. However, he seems unlikely to challenge the disastrous new prohibition.
The president has, however, ended the federal campaign against medical marijuana, ordering administration officials to respect state laws legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes. This policy will grow increasingly important as more states allow use of med-pot (for instance, in November Maine voters legalized medical marijuana dispensaries). Congress should approve legislation introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), codifying administration policy into law.
Dwayne Gilliland, director of the Beneficial Care Collective in downtown San Diego, said of having a licensed security guard on site, “I wouldn’t be able to afford one.”
Marijuana dispensary operators have been characterized as everything from drug dealers out to make a fast buck to law-abiding business owners providing pain relief for seriously ill patients.
In an effort to shift more into the latter category, San Diego city leaders on Tuesday will debate about where, when and how medical marijuana storefronts can operate.
The City Council’s approach differs from that of other cities in the county, including Escondido and El Cajon, which have banned the storefronts.
The council will consider recommendations from an advisory task force to limit hours, require security and ban dispensaries within 500 feet of each other or within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and libraries.
Frequently asked questions about
Medical Marijuana in Washington State
Is medical marijuana legal in Washington? I've heard conflicting answers to this question.
Marijuana possession is illegal in Washington. The medical marijuana law, Chapter 69.51A RCW, provides an affirmative defense for qualified patients and designated caregivers. People who qualify have a valid reason to possess a 60-day supply of marijuana. They may use that reason to defend against a legal action taken under Washington law. However, medical marijuana is not legal under federal law. There is no affirmative defense for people who are arrested or charged under federal law.
I heard the Obama Administration has legalized medical marijuana. Is that true?
No. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. The guidelines do not legalize medical marijuana. The president directed federal prosecutors to consider appropriate medical use when making criminal charging decisions. The guidelines only provide direction for prosecutors when reviewing medical marijuana cases. The guidelines do not change the laws in Washington state.
Cancer patients, glaucoma patients and others can benefit from medical marijuana, and now a new analysis shows that it can help multiple sclerosis
(MS) patients find relief from the muscle spasms that are the hallmark of the debilitating autoimmune disease.
"The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in MS appears to be comprehensive, and should be given considerable attention," said lead researcher Dr. Shaheen Lakhan, executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation.
"Spasticity, an involuntary increase in muscle tone or rapid muscle contractions, is one of the more common and distressing symptoms of MS," the researchers noted in their review. "Medicinal treatment may reduce spasticity, but may also be ineffective, difficult to obtain or associated with intolerable side effects," they added.
"We found evidence that cannabis plant extracts may provide therapeutic benefit for MS spasticity symptoms," Lakhan said.
Although some objective measures showed improvement, there were no significant changes in after-treatment assessments, Lakhan said. "However, subjective assessment of symptom relief did often show significant improvement post-treatment," he added.
A bud of legally grown marijuana is held by a cancer patient, in Portland, Maine. Credit: AP Photo
It's boom times for the marijuana trade in Northern California. Rural Humboldt County's economy depends on both the legal and illegal sales of pot, as growers to trimmers to entrepreneurs aim to land quick cash. But some citizens, and the mayor of Arcata, are trying to "rope back in" the business.
It's not easy to tell the difference between legal medical marijuana and illegal recreational pot.
And because doctors are prescribing pot to just about anyone who wants it, these are boom times for the marijuana trade.
Decades after back-to-the-land hippies first moved to rural Humboldt County in Northern California, it remains a mecca for marijuana.
At the plaza in downtown Arcata, there are still wandering, tie-dyed souls playing guitar and bartering for handmade bongs. They openly buy, sell and trade small bags of primo weed.
Nick Larson and his buddy hitchhiked to town to see if the streets truly are paved with pot.
"We've heard stories all the way down. 'Dude, get down to Humboldt. You gotta try their weed, it's amazing!' " he says. "So we get down here and people are like, tossing handouts, and we're just like, 'Oh my god.' Like, whether it be trim or just straight buds, it's just amazing."
In Eureka, the town next door, a long line stretches outside the Humboldt Patient Resource Center. The pot dispensary is marked with the familiar green leaf logo and a Tibetan prayer flag.
New Jersey is poised to become the next state to allow residents to use marijuana, when recommended by a doctor, for relief from serious diseases and medical conditions.
The state Senate has approved the bill and the state Assembly is expected to follow. The legislation would then head to the governor's office for his signature.
Gov. Jon Corzine, the Democrat who lost his re-election bid last month, has indicated he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk before he leaves office in January. It would likely be one of Mr. Corzine's last acts before relinquishing the job to Republican Chris Christie.
Mr. Christie has indicated he would be supportive of such legislation, but had concerns that one draft of a bill he read didn't have enough restrictions, a spokeswoman said.
The bill has been endorsed by the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians and the New Jersey State Nurses Association.
Thirteen states in America have made it legal in the past 13 years to smoke marijuana for medical reasons.
Another two states have eased the penalties against using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Three states have licensed nonprofit corporations to grow medical marijuana and two state legislatures, in California and Massachusetts, are conducting hearings on whether to legalize pot.
In Europe, seven countries have decriminalized marijuana. In Latin America, the former presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico — all demoralized by the violence associated with the illegal drug trade - have proposed the repeal of prohibition.
The U.S. Justice Department recently announced the sensible policy that it would not use federal laws to prosecute medical-marijuana producers or users in states where the practices are legal.
All of these developments are, according to The Economist magazine, evidence of "a tentative worldwide shift towards a more liberal policy on drugs."
Widespread legalization and licensing of drugs such as marijuana won’t happen quickly, The Economist reported in its Nov. 14 edition. "But a debate about regulation is increasingly drowning out the one about enforcement."
In the United States, the shift toward decriminalization and conditional legalization has been driven not by left-wing radicals but by majorities of voters in states representing a diverse range of political views.
Inside the green neon sign, which is shaped like a marijuana leaf, is a red cross. The cross serves the fiction that most transactions in the store -- which is what it really is -- involve medicine.
The U.S. Justice Department recently announced that federal laws against marijuana would not be enforced for possession of marijuana that conforms to states' laws. In 2000, Colorado legalized medical marijuana. Since Justice's decision, the average age of the 400 persons a day seeking "prescriptions" at Colorado's multiplying medical marijuana dispensaries has fallen precipitously. Many new customers are college students.
Customers -- this, not patients, is what most really are -- tell doctors at the dispensaries that they suffer from insomnia, anxiety, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, "chronic pain," whatever, and pay nominal fees for "prescriptions." Most really just want to smoke pot.