August 29, 2009 – Is marijuana legalization slowly moving closer to the finish line? Perhaps. In the court of public opinion it seems more and more obvious that there is a Picture 2growing acceptance of illegal drugs, all the while polls point to nothing more than a smoke-filled haze of public perception on alcohol and drug related topics.

Released yesterday a Rasmussen Report survey now finds that a majority of Americans (51%) say that alcohol is actual more dangerous than marijuana. 25% of polled adults consider both drugs equally harmful and only 19% are now of the opinion that the pot is worse than the bottle. Alcohol is legal in all fifty states for adults over the age of 21. Marijuana on the other hand is illegal for consumption except where it is recognized for medical purposes. That is the case in thirteen states nationwide, although only California, Colorado, Rhode Island and New Mexico utilize medical dispensaries where the drug can be sold. Pennsylvania meanwhile is one of seven additional U.S. states considering marijuana bills in their legislatures.

The broader issue of drugs and the legalization thereof continues to win over certain critics and gain acceptance in circles where it was once vilified. Several polls in recent years have pointed to this fact but the Rasmussen survey is one of the first to pit public opinion of marijuana against that of the more widely accepted stimulant, alcohol. Mexico recently decriminalized small amounts of pot possession and the state of California will no doubt receive great attention next year as it pushes three separate legalization measures.

Nationally speaking polls seem to show varying levels of public support for marijuana legislation. Rasmussen indicates an uphill battle for pot even if the climb doesn’t appear as steep as in decades past. 41% of U.S. adults think pot should be legalized and taxed with 49% opposed according to that poll. Back in April ABC News, who did not include the taxing option, still found that 46% of adults favor the legalization of “small” amounts of the drug for personal use. On the other hand Zogby who surveyed over 3,900 voters this past May found that by a margin 52-37% most actually favored pot legalization.

The least inspiring numbers for marijuana advocates comes from a March CBS poll of 1,142 adults nationwide. Asked rather bluntly if they thought the use of marijuana should be legal or not only 31% of responders agreed against 63% who felt it should remain illegal.

Poll numbers such as these help illustrate the rather diverse feelings most Americans have toward drugs and alcohol alike. For instance, most think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes but probably not for general use. Most think it should be decriminalized but not made readily available. Americans are more sensitive to the issue of drugs and tend to believe our prisons should be heavily reduced in the number of non-violent drug offenders but also believe the substances that put them in jail should remain banned.

There are similar disparities in the view of the public on alcohol. Americans embrace the culture of alcohol and are drinking in record numbers. 30% of adults according to the aforementioned Rasmussen survey even think the drinking age should be dropped back down to eighteen. But while most states have already stepped up legislation against drinking and driving 50% of adults still do not believe current drunk driving laws are strict enough. That same number also favors a tax increase on alcoholic beverages.

Perhaps the bottom line is that there is no one way of thinking on any subject involving drugs and alcohol. Still the overall trend is towards a more liberal view of banned substances so long as the message being preached by advocates is one that does not involve public safety. American drug culture was never as apparent as it was forty years ago yet in 1969 at the height of the counter-culture some 84% in a Gallup poll were against the legalization of marijuana. Anything nearing a 50-50 split of public acceptance for pot would have to then be viewed a major achievement to the mainstreaming of the drug. Source.

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