Q-poll shows majority favor marijuana legalization

posted at 1:01 pm on December 5, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Did you know that today is the 79th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition?  On this date in 1933, the 21st Amendment passed into law, becoming the only amendment to repeal another in the US Constitution and end the “noble experiment” in enforced teetotaling.  Prohibition was a disaster, but its end didn’t stop the federal government from banning other substances — some inherently and obviously dangerous, others less so, including marijuana, whose relative dangers are still under debate decades after it became a prohibited substance.

A new poll from Quinnipiac today corroborates other polling in the last couple of weeks that Americans may have tired of this prohibition, too.  A majority of respondents want marijuana legalization for the first time in the Q-poll series — but it also shows a huge generation gap on the question:

American voters favor the legalization of marijuana, 51 – 44 percent, with a substantial gender and age gap, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. …

With the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes legal in about 20 states, and Washington and Colorado voting this November to legalize the drug for recreational use, American voters seem to have a more favorable opinion about this once-dreaded drug,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “There are large differences on this question among the American people.

“Men support legalization 59 – 36 percent, but women are opposed 52 – 44 percent. The racial split evident throughout American politics on many matters is barely noticeable on this question with 50 percent of white voters and 57 percent of black voters backing legalization.”

“Not surprisingly, voters 18 to 29 years old support legalization 67 – 29 percent while voters over age 65 are opposed 56 – 35 percent,” Brown added. “Voters 30 to 44 years old like the idea 58 – 39 percent, while voters 45 to 64 years old are divided 48 – 47 percent.”

“This is the first time Quinnipiac University asked this question in its national poll so there is no comparison from earlier years. It seems likely, however, that given the better than 2-1 majority among younger voters, legalization is just a matter of time.”

I’m not surprised to see a generation gap on this question, but I am a little surprised to see where it occurs.  Marijuana use exploded in the 1960s (and perhaps ramped up in the late 1950s), so it might make sense to see seniors stand in opposition to it — perhaps the older end of that demo more than the younger end.  But the 45-64YO demo came of age in the era of expanded and normalized (if still illegal) use of marijuana.  I would have expected to see more support for legalization in that age group, frankly.

As for me, I lean more toward ending the federal prohibition on marijuana, less because I think that legalizing pot would make for a better society than I think that the federal prohibition creates larger problems than it solves.  Unlike most illegal drugs, pot can be raised domestically in a safe manner. It has significant health issues, but so do tobacco and alcohol.  The question of legalization should be left to the states, as should the questions of how to deal with the ramifications in employment, health, and traffic safety.  Marijuana legalization isn’t the nirvana that some of its supporters claim, but the erosion of personal liberty inherent in the federal effort to stop marijuana cultivation, use, and sales outstrips the dangers of this substance.

Reason TV has an interesting feature today for Repeal Day.  Congress had its own bootlegger during Prohibition, and the exploits of George Cassiday — The Man in the Green Hat — have become the subject of historians lately:

From 1920 through 1930 – the thick of the Prohibition era – Cassiday supplied illegal liquor throughout the halls of Congress. Known as “The Man in the Green Hat,” Cassiday was the Capitol’s highest-profile bootlegger, with a client list that included senior members of the Republican and Democratic Parties. How instrumental was he to the D.C. power elite? He even had his own office in the House and Senate office buildings.

Cassiday gave up the liquor trade after his arrest in 1930, but gained notoriety by penning a series of front-page articles for The Washington Post about his days as Congress’ top bottle man.

Though he never named names, Cassiday’s stories detailed every aspect of his former business – and the depths of hypocrisy in Washington. By his own estimation, “four out of five senators and congressmen consume liquor either at their offices or their homes.” Appearing days before the 1930 mid-term elections, Cassiday’s revelations caused a national stir and helped sweep pro-Prohibitionist – and ostensibly tee-totaling – congressmen and senators out of power.

It’s something to keep in mind while debating other prohibitions.

Update: Er, today is the 79th anniversary, not the 78th anniversary.  So much for math.

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December 6th the day that will go down in ignominy!
Let the unemployment numbers rise in Washington State … man.
At least there are a ton of coffee shops in Seattle that will hire stoners.

Remember that argument about how much money in taxes pot will pull in for the State?
Just think what will happen when the potheads realize that they can grow their own weed. It’ll be like Napster meets the zombie.

kregg on December 7, 2012 at 6:48 AM

This is where you proved your cluelessness!

Field breath tests are NOT useful in court to secure convictions – other than supporting probable cause. They can’t be used as evidence of BAC.

Obviously, you don’t know anything about litigating criminal cases. Anyone that watches police television shows knows more than you.

Have you ever heard the term “rules of evidence”?

You are a complete moron. I was refering to the breath test results that are obtained at the police station after an arrest has been made, not one’s from a field test. As I have stated numerous times, field tests are not even used in NJ, an Intoxilyzer machine is used in NJ. I have no idea how the courts in other states even look at the field test…and don’t care. It has nothing to do with what I am saying. What I am trying to get across to your stupid @ss is that a police officer can easily arrest somebody who is DUI on the street without a handheld breath test. That’s it. End of Debate. You can argue with that all you want, but it’ll just continue to prove what an ignorant jackass you are. You are bringing up arguments that have absolutely nothing to do with what I am telling you.

And most departments use them. Not all departments are as successful. Guess what helps? I’ll give you one guess.


Dude, you are so damn stupid it’s mind blowing. I never said they were not useful or could not be useful in helping with probable cause. Please tell me where I ever said that you freakin moron. What I said was that PC can EASILY BE OBTAINED WITHOUT IT…EASILY!

You are really stupid.

dom89031 on December 7, 2012 at 6:10 PM

quote fail from above:

And most departments use them. Not all departments are as successful. Guess what helps? I’ll give you one guess.

Dude, you are so damn stupid it’s mind blowing. I never said they were not useful or could not be useful in helping with probable cause. Please tell me where I ever said that you freakin moron. What I said was that PC can EASILY BE OBTAINED WITHOUT IT…EASILY!
You are really stupid.

dom89031 on December 7, 2012 at 8:20 PM

No, you said that my question couldn’t be answered because it was a hypothetical question.

You were too stupid to realize that plenty of hypothetical questions could be answered after I gave you an example of several.


Listen you freakin moron. That’s why you think your right and I think I’m right.

dom89031 on December 8, 2012 at 6:15 AM

ALL of this has everything to do with defending probable cause.

It’s obvious that your pea brain thinks that an any law enforcement officer can claim that he has probable cause for anything that he wants and that every prosecutor, judge, and defense attorney will accept that claim.

Sorry, Idiot, but the world doesn’t work that way. Field breath tests help an officer prove that he had probable cause to arrest. And yes, officers often need to prove in court that they had probable cause to arrest. Because guess what can happen if a defense attorney can demonstrate that the office didn’t have it? All evidence obtained AFTER the arrest can be inadmissible.

That’s right, Idiot. The breath tests done at the station can be inadmissible if a judge doubts an officer’s claim of probable cause.

It’s sad that someone as clueless as you are about criminal litigation would even try commenting in this thread.

blink on December 7, 2012 at 9:27 PM

It’s obvious you have not clue what you are talking about by your above statements. If you had a clue then you would realize that you don’t need a machine to establish probable cause. And the handheld machines have been found to be unreliable. It’s clear I’m arguing with a kid. You’re too stupid to understand this…we get that. As I have said many times before, NJ does not use a handheld to obtain PC. All PC is done through officer observations. You do not need a handheld to obtain PC…Is there anything you don’t understand here? It’s done EVERYDAY in NJ and I’m sure several other states.

dom89031 on December 8, 2012 at 6:17 AM

Listen carefully, Idiot.

They help in court. They help prove that probable cause was properly established.

You are an idiot.

Who gives a F**k you dumb @ss. An officer can make the arrest without it! Which is my point. You’re a very stupid person. Seriously.

dom89031 on December 8, 2012 at 6:19 AM

It’s quite obvious that you have no idea about many things, and it’s quite obvious that you don’t care about having no idea about many things.

Your ignorance is the only thing you’ve made clear in this thread.

It’s obvious you’re a moron and I have established to you several times how PC could be obtained on the street and DUI arrests made WITHOUT a handheld. It’s clear you have been proven wrong and are too much of a p*ssy to admit it…or too stupid. I’m betting both.

dom89031 on December 8, 2012 at 6:19 AM

blink on December 8, 2012 at 10:33 PM

You’re such a stupid moron you’re not even worth arguing with anymore. It’s like arguing with a person with mulitple personalities. I was making one simple point, in which I proved you wrong, and you’re all over the map with your arguments. You should take your medication, it’s apparent you need it. With that said…Fu*k @ff stupid.

dom89031 on December 8, 2012 at 10:47 PM