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President Barack Obama drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, said in 2010 that marijuana legalization was a "nonstarter," an assertion the Office of National Drug Control Policy says holds true today.
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Peruse the Marijuana Majority website and you see decrying pot prohibition is no longer confined to the convictions of Cheech and Chong. Conference of Mayors cited organized crime, a national change in attitude, the efficacy of medical marijuana and exorbitant costs to local governments in its resolution supporting "states setting their own marijuana policies," a stance similar to the one endorsed by the National Lawyers Guild and the Red Cross.
Gallup, Pew and CNN/Opinion Research Corp. polls conducted in the past three years indicate a nation evenly divided, and Gupta documentary plants him among a loud chorus that has sung the drug praises since California approved medical marijuana in 1996.
Everyone has heard the arguments in the legalization debate about health and social problems, potential tax revenue, public safety concerns and alleviating an overburdened prison system but there isn much new to say. Just this week, on the heels of CNN Sanjay Gupta reversal of his stance on medical marijuana, Attorney General Eric Fred Perry T Shirt Mens
Likewise, Congress has been reticent, Reuter said.
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increase in support for marijuana legalization in the last six or seven years. It unprecedented. It doesn look like a blip," said Peter Reuter, a University of Maryland public policy professor with 30 years experience researching drug policy.
The White House policy, announced in April, favors prevention over incarceration, science over dogma and diversion for nonviolent offenders, the office says. Arguments for marijuana legalization, however, run counter to public health and safety concerns, the Office of National Drug Control Policy says.
In 1969, a Pew Research Center poll showed 12% of Americans supported pot legalization, and Gallup Lacoste Polo Buy Online estimated that same year that four in 100 Americans had taken a toke. Last week, Gallup reported that number had spiked to almost four in 10.
are American opinions on marijuana reaching tipp
"When 49% of voters in Arkansas are voting for legal pot, we aren in Kansas anymore," said Kleiman, who co wrote "Marijuana Legalization" with Kilmer.
The tone of the debate is also a sign that the country is nearing a tipping point at which public opinion effects political change. Rather than engaging in a simple yes vs. no debate about legalization, proponents are asking more nuanced questions: Should "grows" be large or small? What should the tax structure look like? Should potency be limited? Will the model involve for profit companies? How will weed be distributed?
"It may be that everyone waiting to see what happens," he said. "I take their silence to be some form of assent."
Sixteen states have decriminalized possession of personal amounts of marijuana since 1973, including Colorado, which approved decriminalization 37 years before voters legalized cannabis in 2012, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Mark Kleiman, a UCLA public policy professor who has been tapped to mold Washington legal pot industry, noted that even in states where recent ballot initiatives were shot down, there are telling results. Perennial red state Arkansas medical marijuana vote in November, for example, was a squeaker, failing 51% to 49%.
Instead, this week saw Holder make his mandatory minimum announcement without so much as a word about what happening in the states.
"Between Attorney General Holder announcement, the decision made on stop and frisk and Dr. Gupta coming out with his documentary, it was a big week for drug policy," Kilmer said.
states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws, while Colorado and Washington state have legalized it for recreational use a move Alaska, California, Nevada and Oregon each twice rejected between 1972 and 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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Holder announced an initiative to curb mandatory minimum drug sentences and a federal judge called New York City stop and frisk policy unconstitutional.
The office emphasizes that the administration 2013 drug policy takes a new tack with the realization that America can arrest its way out of its longtime drug epidemic.
"The discussion over time and I think it for the better the discussion is starting to focus more on the details," Kilmer said. "Before, nobody has ever really had to confront those decisions. . Those decisions are really going to shape the cost and benefits of policy change."
Though he doesn see federal legalization on the horizon, he noted that the White House could easily shut Washington and Colorado down, either via a Justice Department crackdown or an IRS prohibition on tax deductions for the purchase of marijuana, which Reuter said would be a "killer for the industry."
The question has dipped in and out of the national conversation for decades: What should the United States do about marijuana?
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