Friday, April 12, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #103 - Part 1

Good news: Medical marijuana advances

Good news was in rather short supply this week, but there was this: Maryland has passed a medical marijuana bill. Gov. Martin O'Malley, who supported the measure, will of course sign it.

The drug would be administered by medical staff and obtained at academic centers that are also supposed to study the effects of the program. The O'Malley administration called this a "yellow light" approach as compared to states that have allowed private dispensaries to open. Because of the time it'll take to set up the program, actual distribution of marijuana will probably not start until 2016.

Maryland will thus join 18 other states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai'i, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington - plus the District of Columbia in allowing medical marijuana.

In addition, several states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, with penalties generally not exceeding a $100 fine. On top of that, three states  - Alaska, Colorado, and Washington - have gone further, legalizing possession of small amounts by adults.

Finally on this, a Pew Research Center poll released April 4 shows a majority of Americans supporting legalization of marijuana, with 52 percent in favor and just 45 percent against. Fully 72 percent said that the cost of the drug war is not worth it.

The results mark the first time in Pew's polling that a majority has supported legalization. Back in 1969, support was at only 12%. Ten years ago it was still only about a third and just three years ago it was at 41 percent, so support has grown 11 percentage points in three years and is now a majority. And I think that's good news.


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