Wednesday, October 23, 2013

VIDEO: Candidates for Attorney General Support Marijuana Decriminalization // PLUS: Majority for Legalizing in Gallup Poll

ALL FOUR DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL SUPPORT MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION - Last night Maryland Juice attended a packed Democratic candidates forum for the state's heated Attorney General race. Though Sen. Brian Frosh could not make the event, Delegates Aisha Braveboy, Jon Cardin & Bill Frick showed up at the Wheaton Library to talk about law enforcement, consumer, civil rights and environmental issues.

Bill Frick, Jon Cardin & Aisha Braveboy (left to right)

Given that efforts to remove jail penalties for non-violent marijuana possession have stalled in the State House, I decided to ask the Democratic candidates whether they supported Sen. Bobby Zirkin's legislation to remove jail-time as a penalty for pot possession. As luck would have it, it appears that every single Democratic candidate for Maryland's top law enforcement office supports marijuana decriminalization (see the video below):

Though Sen. Brian Frosh was not available to answer this question at last night's forum, it is worth noting that he already voted in favor of Sen. Bobby Zirkin's bill to remove jail-time as a penalty for marijuana possession. That means that every single Democrat running for Attorney General supports marijuana decriminalization, and at least one gubernatorial candidate (Heather Mizeur) has also gone on record supporting this common-sense reform.

NEW GALLUP POLL SHOWS SUPER-MAJORITY OF DEMOCRATS SUPPORT POT LEGALIZATION  //  MARIJUANA REFORM GOES MAINSTREAM - It is worth noting that the marijuana reform proposal advancing in Maryland is a "decriminalization" bill that would replace jail penalties for possession with civil fines (like a traffic ticket). This is a step below marijuana "legalization" policies (eg: to tax and regulate pot similarly to alcohol) that have been passed in Washington and Colorado. But once again, it appears that the public is more forward-thinking than lawmakers on issues.

A new Gallup poll released yesterday shows that a strong majority of Americans (58%) support full-on marijuana legalization, and the trend line on these numbers is very clear. Additionally, among Democrats support for marijuana legalization is at a whopping super-majority of 65%. Gallup's write-up of the poll results notes that the surge in marijuana support is following the same trajectory we witnessed with marriage equality, and (not surprisingly) most of the opponents are again Republicans (excerpt below):
GALLUP:  For marijuana advocates, the last 12 months have been a period of unprecedented success as Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana. And now for the first time, a clear majority of Americans (58%) say the drug should be legalized. This is in sharp contrast to the time Gallup first asked the question in 1969, when only 12% favored legalization....

A sizable percentage of Americans (38%) this year admitted to having tried the drug, which may be a contributing factor to greater acceptance....

The movement to legalize marijuana mirrors the relatively recent success of the movement to legalize gay marriage, which voters have also approved now in 14 states. Public support for gay marriage, which Americans also overwhelmingly opposed in the past, has increased dramatically, reaching majority support in the last two years....

Independents' growing support for legalization has mostly driven the jump in Americans' overall support.... Yet there is a marked divide between Republicans, who still oppose legalizing marijuana, and Democrats and independents.

So what's the hold-up, folks? Will Maryland drag its feet on this social justice issue and wait for other states to lead (again)?

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