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Majority of Americans support marijuana legalization

Americans seem to be in favor of marijuana legalization for the first time since polling began on the issue.

A recent Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans favored legalizing the drug, a 32 percent increase in support since 2009.

Student Advocates for Medical and Recreational Cannabis President Ian Elliot said he was not shocked by these figures.

“As more people find more uses for marijuana, more people know about it and it becomes more acceptable,” said the Cheboygan freshman.

Elliot added anything that can decrease government spending while increasing revenue, such as legalizing and taxing marijuana, is likely gain traction with the American public.

“(The polling trends) show that laws are going to continue to change, and hopefully we can get some change in the federal law, as well,” he said. “The federal government is wasting its time when it could be dealing with hard drugs, drug cartels and other criminal enterprises. There are many law-abiding citizens who are breaking the law simply by possession, and it’s a little disingenuous.”

The Gallup poll found that 35 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents support marijuana legalization.

College Republicans Student Government Association Representative Casey Kreiner said there is a divide within the Republican Party on the issue of marijuana reform.

Regardless, he said he believed Republicans are unified in the belief that legalization is essentially a secondary issue.

“The Republican Party does have some debate and discussion on marijuana legalization, but I feel there’s a more general focus on economic issues and solving those issues,” the Houghton Lake junior said. “We mostly want to make this country competitive again on an economic scale.”

College Democrats Executive Vice President Candace Grooms said if marijuana were to be legalized, proper precautions and regulations should be put in place.

“The legalization of marijuana, with any other substance the government declares legal, would have to be regulated to ensure safety of the American people,” Grooms said. “Marijuana, if legalized, will have a negative effect on society if precautions and necessary steps are not taken.”

The democratic process should prevail on marijuana legalization initiatives, Grooms said. She cited 17 states as having marijuana decriminalization laws through ballot measures.

“If the citizens favor marijuana legalization, then the proper steps should be able to be taken to implement the law through a ballot proposal,” Grooms said.

Voters in Jackson, Lansing and Ferndale all passed measures this month decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana with at least 60 percent of the public’s support.

However, the conflict between local, federal and state laws remains.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he would ignore any city-passed marijuana legalization/decriminalization initiative and enforce state and federal laws, which take precedence.

Although the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, reform measures may not be arriving soon for Michiganders.

Political Science Department Chair Lawrence Sych said based on Michigan’s experience with medical marijuana, he did not anticipate any measures for legalization in the near future.

Sych said the only measures he expected to see passed by Michigan’s legislature would be efforts to clarify medical marijuana.

“One of the issues is the obtaining of medical marijuana,” Sych said. “It’s kind of a gray area of where you can get this, who the caregivers are and how much can you purchase from caregivers.”

Sych said repeal of Michigan’s current marijuana laws anytime soon is extremely unlikely.

“Because (marijuana legalization) was adopted through an initiative process, the legislature would need a supermajority vote to make changes,” Sych said. “I don’t think there would be that kind of support for reversing it.”