Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Colorado Follows California in the Politics of Marijuana

In 1996, California voters approved the medical use of marijuana (56% in favor). Four years later, Colorado (54% in favor) joined a growing group of states, mostly in the West, to legalize marijuana use for medical treatment.

Colorado now has the second highest number of “patients” (100,000) among states that have legalized it by either ballot elections or legislation. The state also has the fourth highest user rate of people admitting to recreational or medial use (9.24 users, or 370,000, compared to the adult population).

In this year’s election, 40 Colorado cities and counties are considering regulating or banning marijuana dispensaries based on recently passed state regulations. Several committees are asking voters to consider new taxes on marijuana sales.

California is now considering a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for recreational use. A recent Field Poll shows that 50 percent of California voters favor legalization, dramatically up from 3 percent in 1969 and 30 percent in 1983.

The poll also showed nearly three-quarters of California voters (74%) support the 1996 initiative allowing medical use of marijuana, even though a majority (57%) believe the law has made it easier to obtain marijuana even without a real medical need. A near majority of California voters report smoking marijuana at least once in their lives and 8 percent admit to smoking it in the past year.

In 2006, Colorado voters defeated by 59 percent to 41 percent a constitutional amendment to legalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. But, medical use appears to increase acceptance of recreational marijuana use. And, if California legalizes pot, expect Colorado to follow suit and make another effort at legalization.

See related articles:

California Opinion Index-Marijuana
Denver Post-Ballot bring 40 votes on allowing dispensaries
Denver Post-Major changes at hand for marijuana politics
Denver Post-Pot-legalization measure may boost California Dems 

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