Legislators From States With Legalized Marijuana Push Back on Federal Crackdown
Legislators from states that have legalized marijuana are pushing back against a federal crackdown on the drug, led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
A new survey finds 75 percent of Americans think it is inevitable that recreational marijuana will become legal across the country, ABC News reports. The survey also found a growing number of Americans support ending mandatory minimum prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders.
More Americans are in favor of overturning laws that require jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana, according to the Pew Research Center survey. “Even people who don’t favor the legalization of marijuana think the possession of small amounts shouldn’t result in jail time,” said Carroll Doherty, Pew’s Director of Political Research.
The survey found increasing support for legalization. Four years ago, 52 percent of survey respondents said they thought marijuana should not be legal and 41 percent said it should. This year, 54 percent of respondents said they favor legalization and 42 percent oppose it.
Many people remain concerned about drug abuse, the survey indicates—32 percent of respondents called it a crisis, and 55 percent said it is a serious national problem. In addition, 54 percent said they thought marijuana legalization would lead to more underage people trying the drug.
The findings were released this week as legislators around the country are considering changes to drug policies, the article notes. At least 30 states have modified penalties for drug crimes since 2009. Many of these states have repealed or reduced mandatory minimum sentences for lower-level drug offenses.
The federal government is also changing its approach to low-level drug crimes. Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified in favor of changing federal guidelines to reduce the average sentence for drug dealers. He told the United States Sentencing Commission the Obama Administration supports changing guidelines to reduce the average drug sentence by about one year, from 62 months to 51 months.