An October 2018 Gallup poll just came my way. It shows Two in Three Americans Now Support Legalizing Marijuana.
Legalizing the use of pot was an unpopular idea when Gallup first asked Americans about it in 1969 -- just 12% at that time said it should be made legal. Support grew in the 1970s but stagnated in the 20% range until the new millennium, when momentum for legalization picked up again. Since 2000, support for legalizing marijuana has trended steeply upward, reaching majority support for the first time in 2013 -- a year after Colorado and Washington voters legalized recreational use of marijuana via ballot initiatives, making them the first states to do so. Marijuana use continues to be illegal at the federal level.
Views that pot should be legalized have also reached new peaks this year among Democrats (75%) and independents (71%). Democrats reached majority-level support for legalization in 2009, and independents did so in 2010.
Majorities of All Parties Support Legalization
Under federal law, marijuana remains illegal for all purposes, even medicinal. Even in states where marijuana has been made legal under state law, it remains illegal at the federal level.
Crackdown May End
That article was written before Barr replaced Sessions. Yet, questions remain.
On February 24, the Motley Fool asked What's Trump Really Going to Do About Marijuana?
The spending bill Trump signed on Feb. 15 funds U.S. government operations through Sept. 30. And, like previous temporary spending bills, it included language that prevents the U.S. Department of Justice from using funds to interfere in states that have legalized medical marijuana. So the president is comfortable with keeping the DOJ out of the way, at least when it comes to medical marijuana, right? Not so fast.
In signing the bill, Trump highlighted the medical marijuana provision in the spending bill and stated that he "will treat this provision consistent with the President's constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States." Marijuana in any form remains illegal at the federal level in the United States. Trump's additional statement appears to reserve the right to enforce those laws even though the spending bill expressly prohibits using authorized funds to do so.
What will Trump do?
During his nomination process, Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he wouldn't target cannabis businesses that comply with individual states' marijuana laws, and he put that pledge in writing. Now that he's the Attorney General, it would be difficult for Barr to renege on his commitments. Trump's advisors know that.
Expect Trump to Favor Legalization
The Observer comments on What to Do When Donald Trump Says He Supports Marijuana Legalization.
Thus, there is every logical reason to expect that Trump or someone on his team will grasp the obvious—or at least read the poll numbers, which clearly indicate that a wide majority of Americans think marijuana should be legal, a fact that is true across almost every divide there is in the country. This means “Donald Trump supports marijuana legalization” is a headline you will likely read sometime in the next year.
The other option would be to go hard against what a majority of voters want in some forlorn hope to shore up his base—maybe by resurrecting Anslinger-era tropes about jazz musicians and Mexican workers, because the tired line about kids and gateway drugs just doesn’t work anymore. While not impossible, this would be such an act of chaotic self-harm with no upside, it is hard to see even Team Trump trying it.
Trump is going to be OK with pot. Someday, he or the very good boys who share his name may even try to brand and sell it. This may put you in the unfamiliar and—sorry, #Resistance—unenviable position of finding yourself in accord with Donald Trump.
The ideas expressed by the Observer make sense to me.
Trump will change his tune and he will then likely claim that legalization was his idea all along and it was really Jeff Sessions who was the bad guy.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock