Americans want federal govt out of marijuana policy

Americans want federal govt out of marijuana policy
The legalization of recreational marijuana is still a controversial issue in the United States, but approximately two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government should not interfere with state laws on the subject.

In fact, 67 percent of voters want Congress to pass a law that carves out a “safe haven” for states that legalize recreational pot use, according to a new poll conducted by Third Way think-tank. Under the law, “legal” states would be protected from federal legislation, which still classifies recreational and medical marijuana as illegal.

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“When given an option of state or federal control, a clear majority of the electorate believes states should control and decide whether to legalize marijuana (60% state control compared to 34% federal government enforcement),” Third Way reported.

"A supermajority of Americans believe that federal policymakers have a role to play in this discussion, and that they should act to provide a safe haven from federal law for states that have already legalized marijuana and are acting responsibly to strictly regulate it," the report added.

Despite broad support on this point, the issue of legalization itself remains divisive. Third Way’s national survey found that 50 percent of Americans are in favor of legalization, while 47 percent are against.

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Medical marijuana, however, garnered the support of 78 percent of Americans.

Currently, four states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska – and the District of Columbia have passed initiatives legalizing marijuana use for adults. As for medical marijuana, 23 states and Washington, DC have laws permitting it at the recommendation of a doctor.

Since pot is still outlawed by the federal government, though, individuals and growers in states where the drug is legal could technically still face prosecution. Even banks could face money laundering charges if they open accounts of marijuana businesses. As a result, Third Way suggests implementing a “waiver” that would let pot-related businesses operate without the threat of federal prosecution hanging over their heads.

“To solve these problems and create space for the states that have legalized recreational marijuana use to do it right,” the think-tank wrote, “Congress needs to amend the Controlled Substances Act to establish a policy of federal non-intervention based in state waivers that carry the force of law.”