Perhaps it isn’t too much of a surprise that college students support legalizing marijuana, particularly when most people are picturing an “Animal House”-like setting at which such answers are given.
However, our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know that the conversation has elevated beyond that point for many of our country’s youth.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that for the first time, a majority of American adults (58 percent) back the implementation of legalized marijuana. That figure represents a 10 percent surge just in the last year alone.
However, when we look at the college-age 18- to 29-year-old cohort, we see those approval ratings soar to 67 percent.
Sociologists believe it has much to do with the fact that these young adults came of age in an era when the legalization debate was in full swing. They grew up hearing strongly-held opinions for both sides of the argument. They are educated when it comes to the benefits of medicinal marijuana. For some, medicinal marijuana has been available in their home states for as long as they can remember, or at least since they were in grade school.
They didn’t grow up surrounded by the “reefer madness” ideology. For them, the War on Drugs had always been something of a failure, despite the stance to which law enforcement and criminal prosecutors were still clinging. They may have had close relatives or friends who were medical marijuana patients. They saw firsthand the benefits of safe accessibility.
To them, there is nothing inherently “bad” about the drug, so it makes little sense to continue aggressive, expensive efforts to investigate, arrest and punish those who use it for recreation.
One professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh was quoted by a reporter at USA Today as saying that the drug is “not necessarily looked down on” by the younger generation.
A number of college students quoted for that same article voiced the belief that while smoking to excess can in fact be harmful, especially if a person drives under the influence of it, they don’t see why it should be any less acceptable under the law than enjoying a glass of wine.
“(Marijuana) is not something that ruins lives,” one student had said.
There are 20 states in the country, including California, where the drug is available for sick patients, albeit to varying degrees of regulation. Voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, have approved the drug for recreational consumption by adults, though sales have not formally kicked off yet in either, as they both continue to work to implement stringent regulatory guidelines.
Three other states are actively weighing similar proposals. California voters could have the opportunity to vote on the issue again as early as next year. (A previous effort was not successful.)
Advocates with the Marijuana Policy Project note that both anti-marijuana advocates and the federal government have, for many years, exaggerated the harm associated with legalized marijuana. Young people have seen through that.
Still, students do recognize that chronic use of chronic has the potential to jeopardize their future prospects. However, they also see how the War on Drugs has unfairly jeopardized the prospects of far too many others – minorities especially.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
Marijuana debate catches fire among college students, Oct. 25, 2013, By Shayna Posses, USA Today
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U.S. Attorney General: It’s Time for Drug Sentencing Reform, Aug. 15, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog