Pubdate: Thu, 03 Apr 2014
Source: Progress-Index, The (VA)
Copyright: The Progress-Index 2014
Note: from the Associated Press


DENVER (AP) - Threefourths of Americans say it's inevitable that
marijuana will be legal for recreational use across the nation,
whether they support such policies or not, according to a public
opinion poll released Wednesday that highlights shifting attitudes
following the drug war era and tough-on-crime legislation.

The Pew Research Center survey also shows increased support for ending
mandatory minimum prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders and
doing away altogether with jail time for small amounts of marijuana.

The opinions come as public debate on these topics has led lawmakers
around the nation to consider policy changes.

Since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana
in 1996, at least 19 others and the District of Columbia have followed
suit, including two that have approved recreational use. More than a
dozen state legislatures considered legalization measures this year.

Meanwhile, critics and political leaders, both liberal and
conservative, have clamored for an end to harsh drug sentences, saying
mandatory minimums have contributed to prison overcrowding, civil
rights violations and strained budgets. U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder has been pushing Congress to overhaul drug sentencing policies.

The telephone survey found that 75 percent of respondents - including
majorities of both supporters and opponents of legal marijuana - think
that the sale and use of pot eventually will be legal nationwide.

It was the first time that question had been asked, but it reflects a
gradual trend of acceptance.

The survey indicates that four years ago, 52 percent of respondents
said t hey thought the use of marijuana should not be legal, while 41
percent said it should. The new poll shows a reversal with 54 percent
in favor of legalization and 42 percent opposed. It marked a turning
point in a gap that has been shrinking fairly steadily since 1969, the
earliest data available, when 84 percent said pot should be illegal
and only 12 percent thought otherwise.  
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D