Poll Position: Should marijuana be legalized?

Today is considered “Weed Day” by marijuana smokers because the date, 4/20, corresponds with the numbers they use to refer to the drug. The actual origins of the term “420″ are not as widely known, but you can count on thousands of college students gathering — in some cases, together, and in very public locations — to celebrate doing something that’s illegal.

For now, anyway.

Should marijuana be legalized?

  • Yes (1,088 Votes)
  • No (40 Votes)
  • I don't know (15 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,143

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There is a growing shift in public opinion about whether marijuana should be legalized, even in the South, with as unlikely a proponent as Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson arguing that particular drug shouldn’t be treated any differently than alcohol. Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico and erstwhile GOP presidential candidate now seeking the Libertarian Party’s 2012 nomination, has called for legalizing and regulating marijuana, citing the ineffectiveness and costliness of enforcing the ban. People in favor of keeping the current law argue that marijuana can be a “gateway drug” that leads users to experiment with harder, more harmful substances. Georgia’s legislators haven’t gone as far as legalizing pot, but this year they did pass an overhaul of the state’s criminal code that calls for people in possession of small amounts of the drug to face alternatives to jail time.

So, a very simple Poll Position question for today: Should marijuana be legalized? Answer in the nearby poll and in the comments thread.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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251 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

April 20th, 2012
10:37 am

It would save a great deal of money if marijunna was not on the “war on drugs” list. Unfortunately, many more lives would be lost in car wrecks caused by high as a kite drivers. So, our choice is money vs lives. The way things are now in America, I would bet on money.

@@

April 20th, 2012
10:38 am

Georgia’s legislators haven’t gone as far as legalizing pot, but this year they did pass an overhaul of the state’s criminal code that calls for people in possession of small amounts of the drug to face alternatives to jail time.

And with THAT, I agree.

I’m not willing to take in revenue at the expense of children.

euler

April 20th, 2012
10:41 am

“Unfortunately, many more lives would be lost in car wrecks caused by high as a kite drivers.”

Citation needed.

Aquagirl

April 20th, 2012
10:45 am

At the very moment society takes baby steps towards legalization, the unions are going to kill Twinkies.

http://blogs.ajc.com/business-beat/2012/04/17/twinkies-survival-hangs-in-balance/

Life is cruel.

Hillbilly D

April 20th, 2012
10:45 am

I’m in my 50’s and I know people who’ve been stoners since we were in high school. It ain’t a pretty sight.

1961_Xer

April 20th, 2012
10:56 am

I’m in my 50’s and I know people who’ve been stoners since we were in high school. They have families, jobs, homes, and are otherwise law-abiding citizens.

JDW

April 20th, 2012
10:57 am

What an idea! Lets take all that money we waste each year fighting the “War on Drugs” and STOP. Make them legal, regulate and tax them. Wow crime goes down, cost goes down and revenue goes up. As for the inevitable, but we have to protect society against themselves bit…WHY???? Those that will–will. Those that won’t–won’t.

The other thing that comes to mind every time this subject comes up is the dichotomy in the position of the Right…

legislate corporations…bad—legislate morals…good.

Makes about as much sense as cut taxes and increase spending.

Aquagirl

April 20th, 2012
10:58 am

I’m not even in my 50’s and the alcoholics from my high school are dropping like flies.

ByteMe

April 20th, 2012
10:59 am

People in favor of keeping the current law argue that marijuana can be a “gateway drug” that leads users to experiment with harder, more harmful substances

The more we learn about how addiction affects our brains, the more we discover that ANYTHING is going to be a “gateway” drug for people whose brains crave that kind of alteration. Alcohol can be the gateway, food can be the gateway, cocaine can be the gateway. Just depends on how the brain is wired. Some people take to it, others do not. Does making it illegal or legal change that? Nope.

Make it just like alcohol: you can buy it if you’re over 18, can’t use it if you’re driving or operating any heavy machinery. And then create a campaign like we do for cigarettes to educate teens on how it can be addictive and not good for your health.

ByteMe

April 20th, 2012
11:01 am

Oh, and I’d tax the heck out of it with the money flowing to the states to set up drug courts and drug rehab facilities.

1961_Xer

April 20th, 2012
11:01 am

“Unfortunately, many more lives would be lost in car wrecks caused by high as a kite drivers.”

I call BS. Those who would smoke and drive are smoking and driving now. Criminals don’t obey laws, so the before and after affects of the law on overall crime are indistinguishable.

If you are worried about car wrecks, a better target for your ire would be cell phones.

1961_Xer

April 20th, 2012
11:04 am

People in favor of keeping the current law argue that marijuana can be a “gateway drug” that leads users to experiment with harder, more harmful substances

Marijuana is a gateway drug because of it’s source, and the people involved in its commerce. The guy selling the pot is also the guy selling the meth. If the pot is obtained from a legal source, then the buyer never comes in contact with the guy selling the meth.

ByteMe

April 20th, 2012
11:06 am

The guy selling the pot is also the guy selling the meth.

he’s also the guy lacing the pot with who knows what to give you a greater kick… and get you hooked on the next thing.

yuzeyurbrane

April 20th, 2012
11:10 am

Kyle, I must admit you occasionally shock me by taking positions which are opposite of what I think your ideas are. This is one of those times.

Aquagirl

April 20th, 2012
11:11 am

Hmmmm….51 to 5 in favor, on a conservative columnist’s page.

Prohibition would be long gone if there weren’t so many people making money off of it.

Rafe Hollister

April 20th, 2012
11:12 am

For once I agree with JDW and 61Xer

You just can’t legislate behavior. People are going to do what they want to do. The consequences of that behavior are often out of line with the offense. I agree with @@ that children suffer when the parents are so selfish, but not sure how we can effectively regulate that. The children suffer now because of alcohol, cigarettes, illiteracy, and the lottery, all legal.

Ivan Cohen

April 20th, 2012
11:12 am

When a suitable method of taxing pot has been found, the walls of resistance will come down. The Generation Xers will be the ones who come up with a solution. Their elders from the free love and flower power generation have shown themselves not up to the task.

zeke

April 20th, 2012
11:15 am

The government(s) have done a poor job! This scourge can be controlled if not eliminated! It has been proven to be a gateway drug. Not everyone, but, probably a majority of those who use become unhappy with the high and want a bigger one. Then comes heroine, cocaine, crack! NO, DO NOT LEGALIZE IT!!

weatherwatcher

April 20th, 2012
11:17 am

Enter your comments here

jconservative

April 20th, 2012
11:22 am

Treat marijuana exactly as we treat alcohol.

Ernest T. Bass

April 20th, 2012
11:24 am

Ive been smoking pot for years and years and never tried any harder drugs.

The whole gateway thing is way overblown.

Some people like to chill with a 6 pack at the end of the day, some a glass or two of wine, and some prefer to get a little stoned.

All the same thing.

Hard drugs …totally different and should remain illegal.

Ernest T. Bass

April 20th, 2012
11:25 am

Treat marijuana exactly as we treat alcohol.

Ditto

TBone

April 20th, 2012
11:28 am

Decriminalize it and allow the limited cultivation of pot for personal use. I don’t smoke the stuff anymore and don’t create a demand for it but the colateral damage done by the drug cartels and the money they are pulling in due to the US appetite for the drug is ridiculous. The time has come for us to revise our strategy. Of course the government will want a cut so they can continue to waste resources.

Brain

April 20th, 2012
11:32 am

Those of you who float the “more wrecks/gateway drug/stoners are not a pretty sight” argument have such tangential, at best, experience with the substance that your comments are not productive to the discussion. You sound like the 50s parents who claimed rock-n-roll would poison kids’ minds.

As it relates to the “more lives will be lost on the highway” train-of-thought, let me make this as clear as I can. Citing some kind of moral superiority argument here disgusts me. Because of the illegality of MJ and the lack of regulation, etc, that would accompany it, literally 10s of thousands of people are dying in drug wars in Mexico. Pius nincompoops like y’all are , indirectly , killing 1000s because of some misplaced and misguided moral compass.

That we have not fully legalized MJ is one of our greatest failings as a country.

Three Jack

April 20th, 2012
11:33 am

I’m in my 50s and see many more people my age addicted to pain pills than pot. Legalize it and re-direct some of the wasted money currently funding the drug war to punishment of doctors handing out oxycontin like it’s freakin candy.

Becky

April 20th, 2012
11:34 am

I have always considered the green space along highways to be wasted space and should be cultivated. What better place for the states to place their weed farms? Then tax it like alcohol.

Skewed stats

April 20th, 2012
11:35 am

I love all of these “gateway” claims from sheep who really have no idea except what the Gub’mint tells them. If you give me an intended outcome…I can frame the statistic in such a way to come up with the conclusion you are seeking. This is how the “gateway” claim gets pushed around this MJ debate. If you interview 1,000 people who smoke MJ…I’ll bet one or two have then gone on to do harder drugs. Now, if you interview 1,000 people who do the harder drugs and ask them how many of you also use MJ I’ll bet it’s probably 999 of them.

PLEASE quit being sheep people and do your own research.

Jefferson

April 20th, 2012
11:36 am

Why should it be illegal would be my question ?

Becky

April 20th, 2012
11:37 am

I agree with the poster that said cell phone usage contributes more to accidents than anything else. Who are these people talking to all day long? I have a cell phone and use maybe 50 minutes a month and never talk while driving.

weatherwatcher

April 20th, 2012
11:39 am

The state will save a ton of money by setting the alternate punishment for small amounts. Having seen both, I am more afraid of what a drunk would do than I am of what someone with a MJ high would do. Drunks can get very violent; potheads, philosophical and paranoid. I had rather ride with a stoned driver than a drunk driver, but given my druthers, would opt to drive myself. It is time to legalize mj and free our law enforcement to pursue the horrible stuff. That said, I wish folks would not put anything unhealthy in their bodies. But anything from prescription drug abuse to too many twinkles or Cokes can prove fatal. I have known people who used weed in the same capacity that some use
xanax, prozac, etc. I do not know which is worse, but I think MJ leaves the body faster and does not leave residuals to destroy the liver. Guess amount smoked would determine lung issue. I’d say alcohol is worse that weed. Also, there is the fact that Hemp is such a wonderful product and we can’t grow it in the US. Hemp has been used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel. Hemp is legally grown in many countries across the world including Canada, Spain, China, Japan, Korea, England, France, Africa, North Africa, Egypt and Ireland. With our struggling economy, would it be a help to grow our own hemp instead of importing products. The biodegradable plastic would certainly help our environment. We grown corn, which can be used to make squeezing, we grow potatoes, which can be used to make vodka, we grow grain, which is used to make beer..but that is not all these products are used to make. We are cutting off our noses to spite our faces. There are millions who would not smoke pot even if it were legal. There are millions who smoke pot, even tho it is illegal, so why not tax it, use it for multiple product manufacturing and allow our country to profit, instead of lawbreakers?

Parking Dawg

April 20th, 2012
11:41 am

How is it that whenever the issue of legalizing pot comes up, opponents can only offer a straw-man argument such as: “high as a kite drivers” and “children?” No one is suggesting making driving while high legal or making it available to kids. So your fallacious premise negates your entire argument. DUI and underage use laws are still in effect. Why not take the issue on directly? At least give an argument against pot that doesn’t pertain to a second crime taking place.

I find it most interesting that many will go home and open a beer, or bottle of wine, or mix a drink and then condemn someone for consuming something more natural then the manipulated fermented sugars in their glass. For many who live with alcholism, they either can’t enjoy your same escape, or do so with typically regretable consequences (because it’s “legal”). For others consuming a plant that, if you’re a God fearing person, was created by God, provides a similiar escape. However, a mild hallucenigenic one that causes the user to become docile if not giddy. You won’t find many “stoners” picking fights.

Again, I have yet to read or hear an argument against the legalization of pot that doesn’t pertain to someone committing some other crime while under its influcence, but no valid arguments against the drug itself or its legalization.

carlosgvv

April 20th, 2012
11:44 am

1961_Xer

So, if pot was legalized you don’t think the number of pot smokers would increase? And, if the number did increase, you don’t think the number of pot smoking drivers would increase?

Class of '98

April 20th, 2012
11:47 am

Marijuana is a gateway drug simply BECAUSE it is illegal. It exposes users to the black market (where harder drugs are available), and desensitizes them to breaking the law.

Also, experimenters with weed may think, “THIS is illegal? It is fun and harmless. Maybe the negative effects of cocaine, heroin, etc are also overblown by law enforcement propoganda.”

Class of '98

April 20th, 2012
11:53 am

Also, the only people who think driving stoned is just like driving drunk are people who have never done both. Unless you are really, really, REALLY high, smoking pot actually makes one a SAFER driver because they are relaxed yet focused. I am angry and aggressive when sober, relaxed and patient after puffing a j.

AmVet

April 20th, 2012
11:55 am

Given the results of your poll, Kyle ti looks like you have a bunch of stoner Republicans reading your articles.

LOL.

Must be the same drunks who voted to end Prohibition in all of Georgia’s dead red suburbs…

Progressive Humanist

April 20th, 2012
12:00 pm

Stupidity is the gateway to conservatism.

Parking Dawg

April 20th, 2012
12:00 pm

@CarlosGVV – In response to your question to 1961_Xer. Do you really think that if pot becomes legal that thousands of people who never consumed a drug before are going to say, “Hey great, now pot is legal, let’s go get high and drive.” The plain truth is that those who would get behind the wheel of a car high will do so using “legal drugs” as well. Again, the problem isn’t with pot, it is with the individual choices.

Class of '98

April 20th, 2012
12:05 pm

Meaningless slogans are the gateway to liberalism. YES WE CAN!

Parking Dawg

April 20th, 2012
12:09 pm

@Progressive Humanist – I’m a conservative in favor of the legalization of pot, so why don’t you keep your morally unanchored ad hominem attacks to yourself? “Progressives” haven’t cornered the market on intellect.

Heck, I’m still waiting for someone on this board to post a valid argument against legalization that doesn’t involve committing another crime. What is wrong with legalizing pot?

Darwin

April 20th, 2012
12:15 pm

Interesting how not too long ago, conservatives’ motto was “throw them all in jail and let em rot!’ It fired up the base. You know, right wing politicians on the take. You gotta give the masses something, right? Pro-file, anti-gay, anti-drugs and crime. Test the welfare recipients. You know the game. So now, with tight budgets, and the right wing running everything, it’s now – “we can’t afford this.” Now it’s alternative sentencing. What a bunch of hypocrites!

Class of '98

April 20th, 2012
12:17 pm

AmVet,

I was in favor of Sunday sales, not because I am a drunk, but because I believe in personal liberty.

It seems like a veteran would appreciate that.

dc

April 20th, 2012
12:23 pm

I figure that the attorneys and the criminal justice system are BIG TIME against legalizing any drugs. They would face a HUGE loss of revenue from seizures, fines, and lawyer fees.

Sadly, this is a serious issue……there will be many whose livelihood depends on drugs being illegal, beyond just the drug dealers.

ScooterTom69

April 20th, 2012
12:26 pm

I’m 50 years old and have been smoking pot for over 30 years as have many of my friends.
We are all productive members of society, we go to work everyday, support our families, go tom church, pay our taxes and so forth.
I am all for the de-criminalization of marijuana if there was a way to tax it and treat it just like alcohol.
I do my own thing on my time.
I plan on celebrating “420″ as soon as I get home from work today.
And by the way, you do not get “hooked” on marijuana, there has been no proof that anyone has ever had a physical addiction to marijuana.
Now I’m all for keeping other drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin, etc illegal.
I have NO use what so ever for these drugs.
Anyone ever here of a “pothead” robbing folks or breaking in to homes to support their habit?
’nuff said, HAPPY 420 YALL!!!

Not Blind

April 20th, 2012
12:26 pm

Yeah, let’s send the message to our young –

Pot is good ! Get high !

Heck with going to work, get high !

Heck with going to school, get high !

Everything will be all right if you get high often enough !

Heck with paying rent, buy pot !!!

Heck with saving for retirement, buy pot !!!!

The heck with…. what was I just going to say ??? Brain ain’t what it used to be but it can’t be the pot, where’s the proof ?

There may be something more short sighted than legalizing marijuana but I can’t think of it .

Logical Dude

April 20th, 2012
12:27 pm

The War on Drugs has a huge collateral damage by keeping the drug lords in power.

Prohibition has been shown not to work. Legalize it.
Legalize everything. Get it out in the open. Tax it, control it, and restrict it. But throwing people in jail for medical issues is the wrong way to go. (yes, calling addiction a medical issue).

This will reduce the amount of jail space that puts our country the tops in jailed citizens.

Becky

April 20th, 2012
12:27 pm

This issue does speak to drug testing those getting assistance doesn’t it?

John Ellison

April 20th, 2012
12:28 pm

Every time a drug dealer is arrested, another one takes his place. So, what was accomplished? Doing the same thing and expecting different results = insanity!

Intown

April 20th, 2012
12:28 pm

A friend cleverly referred to today as “National Glaucoma Awareness Day”

Dusty

April 20th, 2012
12:29 pm

How come smoking tobacco is so injurious to your health but smoking marijuana is just the thing to make you happy and healthy?

Somebody is wrong about something!

Can’t some of you live without “props” to keep you going with a goofy smile? Weaklings! Go spend your money on something worthwhile, legal and healthy for a change.

dc

April 20th, 2012
12:29 pm

and remember, Parking Dawg, Tolerance isn’t something “Progressives (whatever the heck that means)” actually do, it’s just something they use to force everyone else to toe the line. In my experience, the most intolerant people in the world are so called progressives.