Legal recreational marijuana sales have been occurring in Colorado since January 1, 2014. I have heard many political analysts and pundits describe legalization as the 'great public policy experiment of this decade.' I have also heard marijuana reform opponents describe legalization as 'the most dangerous public policy experiment of this decade.' The fact is that there have been very few problems reported in Colorado and Washington since they legalized marijuana, and those issues have been insignificant compared to the benefits that have been afforded to Colorado and Washington.
There have been thousands of jobs created by marijuana legalization, there have been huge sums of tax dollars saved by not dedicating them to enforcing failed prohibition policies, and there has also been sizable revenues generated from taxes and fees on marijuana sales. Marijuana legalization is a great thing, and the 'social costs' argument has been proven wrong. A recent poll shows that most Americans agree. Per NORML:
More than six out of ten Americans - including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Independents, and Republicans - support the regulation and retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, according to the findings of a nationwide HuffPost.com/YouGov poll released today.
Colorado voters in 2012 approved a statewide initiative legalizing the personal consumption and cultivation of the plant. The measure also allows for the state-licensed commercial production and retail sales of cannabis to those over the age of 21. Commercial cannabis sales began on January 1st of this year. To date, these sales have generated nearly $11 million in tax revenue.
Sixty-one percent of Americans - including 68 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 52 percent of Republicans - say they "support" Colorado's efforts to regulate the commercial cannabis market. Only 27 percent of respondents oppose the Colorado law.
Respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 (65 percent) as well as those age 65 and older (64 percent) were most likely to support Colorado's efforts, while those between the ages of 45 to 65 (55 percent) were less likely to do so.
The results of a separate poll of Colorado voters commissioned by Quinnipiac University in April similarly reported that most Coloradoans support the state's efforts to regulate marijuana sales and consumption.
Similarly licensed commercial retail sales of cannabis began last week in Washington state.
In response to a separate HuffPost/YouGov poll question, 54 percent of those surveyed said that the US government should not enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have legalized and regulated the plant. Only 29 percent of respondents endorsed the notion of enforcing federal prohibition in states that are pursuing alternative regulatory schemes.
"Every day in America, hundreds of thousands of people engage in transactions involving the recreational use of marijuana, but only in two states - Colorado and Washington - do these transactions take place in a safe, above-ground, state-licensed facility where consumers must show proof of age, the product sold is of known quality, and the sales are taxed in a manner to help fund necessary state and local services," NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "Not surprisingly, most Americans prefer to have cannabis regulated in this sort of legal setting as opposed to an environment where the plant's production and sale is entirely unregulated and those who consume it are stigmatized and classified as criminals."
Complete poll results are available online here.