Is support for pot legalization fading?

For quite a while now it’s seemed to me that marijuana legalization was sort of a done deal. It hasn’t taken root everywhere, but it’s been slowly spreading across the country and it sounded as if increasing numbers of people were okay with it. But perhaps the tide is beginning to shift once again. That might be the case in Illinois, at least, where some recent polling supposedly shows a decline in support for legalization. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Illinois residents might not be all that high on legalizing recreational marijuana.

Only two out of five voters support allowing the production, use and sale of marijuana, according to a poll paid for by a group that is opposed to lifting the state’s pot prohibition.

Nearly a third of Illinoisans polled want the current pot laws to remain unchanged, while some people favor keeping marijuana illegal but allowing for expungement of past misdemeanor convictions.

And there’s not a lot of variation across demographic groups, although women, Democrats, suburbanites and voters under 50 were most enthusiastic about a more mellow approach to weed.

A couple of observations about this. First, as the report indicates, the people responsible for the survey are opponents of legalization, so take that as you will. But you would have to fudge the numbers quite a ways to get that level of opposition, particularly in a fairly blue state.

But why would support begin to stall? Possibly because the tactics of opponents to legalization are changing and perhaps becoming more effective. The days of the old Reefer Madness movies are gone. Now the debate is focusing on things like the increased potency of today’s designer strains of marijuana, offering much higher THC levels than the skunkweed kids were smoking back in the sixties and seventies. (Or… ahem… so I’ve heard.)

If nothing else, the issue has become increasingly complicated. There is already some testing being done to determine the effects of more potent marijuana on humans, in terms of everything from impaired driving to long-term physical and psychological impacts. (Assuming there are any.) And now, with the availability of THC in vaping products, dosage issues may be even more of consideration even as we remove the known dangers of inhaling the smoke from burning plants.

For now, this is just a trend to keep an eye on. This could still be an outlier, but if support begins to crater in other states, the conversation will certainly have shifted.