Opinions Changing On Marijuana While Federal Law Remains Unchanged

Momento Mori (Flickr Creative Commons)

The evidence is not only building for the medical marijuana industry, it looks like it may be building for the recreational marijuana business as well, at least on the public perception front.  With marijuana being a fairly harmless drug compared to legal counterparts like alcohol, perhaps one of the biggest inhibitions to its legalization is the public’s opinion about it.

But now, surveys conducted by key groups is showing that perception around marijuana is changing, and the public is becoming more friendly towards it.

Public opinion polling over the past few years has begun to show a slight majority who are now for the legalization of arijuana.  That number is expected to keep rising as it has been over the past ten years or so.

But legalization is also popular with a group of people you might never have thought it would be with: police officers.  A study conducted by the Pew Research Center surveyed around 7,900 police officers and found that most cops think marijuana should be legal in some capacity.

Thirty-two percent of responders said that marijuana should be entirely legalized both recreationally and medically.  Another 37 percent of officers said they believed it should be legalized medically.  Only 30% of the responders did not think that marijuana should be legalized at all.

But despite both the general public and the law enforcement community being on board for legalization, marijuana policy remains stagnant on a federal level.  It’s still a Schedule 1 substance, meaning that is has absolutely no accepted medical value.  Despite being petitioned to change this, the DEA discarded that request last August.

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This makes things difficult for the states who have decided to move forward with more progressive marijuana policy regardless of federal regulations.  Federal law still prohibits banks from working with businesses that sell marijuana, and technically those establishments are breaking federal law, despite their state law’s allowance.

Changing perceptions about marijuana are definitely a good sign for its legal future.  But something has to get our federal government past the hump to finally reschedule marijuana.  Perhaps the public tides will turn so strongly against them that they will be forced to step down, but for now, let’s take note of the federal government’s unwillingness to comply with public opinion and state law.

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