CNN Poll: Public not sold yet on Colorado marijuana law
January 8th, 2014
08:00 PM ET
11 months ago

CNN Poll: Public not sold yet on Colorado marijuana law

Washington (CNN) – Americans may support the general concept of legalizing the use of marijuana, but according to a new national poll, they are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the way Colorado is actually implementing its new law that makes the sale of marijuana to adults legal.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday also indicates that a majority seem to hope that the federal government will lay off Colorado when it comes to enforcing federal law, which still outlaws the sale or possession of pot.

In the meantime, while marijuana use is not completely legal in 48 states, according to the poll Americans remain firmly in favor of medical marijuana laws, and continue to believe that a fine, not jail time, is the appropriate penalty for the possession of small amounts of marijuana in states other than Colorado and Washington State, which has also voted to legalize pot.

How do Americans feel about the new system in Colorado, the first state in the country to allow anyone over the age of 21 to buy small quantities of marijuana from state-licensed businesses?

One-third of those questioned in the poll say the state's new law is a good idea and 29% say it's a bad idea. But a 37% plurality say that they want to see what happens in Colorado and other states that legalize marijuana before the decide how they feel about this matter.

Given the fact that federal law still outlaws the sale or possession of marijuana, how should the federal government handle pot in Colorado?

Only 28% of Americans believe that federal authorities should arrest as many users and sellers of marijuana in Colorado as possible. Seven in ten say the federal government should not enforce federal law in that state. If marijuana were not legalized, most Americans (79%) continue to believe that the penalty for possession of small amounts of pot should be a fine, not jail time. And nearly nine in ten think that adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International, from January 3-5, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Freedom Fighter

    Who's against Cannabis Legalization? :
    – Private Prisons, a 1.5 BILLION $ industry will lose up to 30% of their "Customers."
    – Drug cartels, will lose cannabis sales forever.
    – Brewers and distilleries, are the biggest lobby against legalization. These alcoholic products KILL some 40,000 people per year in the USA.
    – Law enforcement, set to loose about 50% of all drug arrests to plain common sense.
    – Big pharma hates cannabis because it frequently works better than the products they sell and they cannot find a sure fire way to capitalize on cannabis.

    US CDC Figures directly from the CDC dot gov web site on numbers of deaths per year in the USA :
    Prescription Drugs: 237,485
    Tobacco: 81,323
    Alcohol: 39,199
    Marijuana 0, none, not a single death in all medical history
    Cited direct from CDC dot gov. Stop the lies and Legalize!

    January 9, 2014 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  2. Walt7909

    The movement to legalize pot has gone very slowly. With the new laws in CO and WA, this is going to catch fire very quickly. And it's about time the gov't lifts the restrictions on marijuana medical research and actively funds it. And lets not forget about industrial hemp for clothing, paper, nutritional seeds and other commercial applications. The lies are finally being revealed and the benefits recognized.

    Legalization and regulation will make it harder for young people under the age of 21 to obtain it, just like alcohol and tobacco and that's another benefit.

    And while we're at, we should be immediately releasing prisoners whose only crime was being caught with marijuana.

    January 9, 2014 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  3. Trilobiteme

    Why does the president have the right to pick and choice which federal law he is going to follow ?

    If you don't like the federal law change it. If you don't have the votes to change federal laws campaign on it till you do.

    but what a bad example you set if you just ignore federal law.

    January 9, 2014 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  4. land of the free

    the federal government has no lawful jurisdiction over the sheriff

    January 9, 2014 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  5. Ian

    First on a pot article, oh the joy, where to go? Marijuana should be freely and widely available, just like liquor. The current price is far to high but others have observed it was also very high in California when they started their medical program and have dropped significantly. People will be happy with the stuff on the street if it's half the price, it's just basic economics – more people buy beer than champagne.

    January 9, 2014 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  6. Jester4477

    First of all...why is this post not open to using Disqus like other CNN posts? Is CNN trying to control content here? Secondly...I'm not sure where and whom this survey was conducted on (and let's be honest, 1K respondents is NOT an accurate sampling of the national mood), but based on my encounters and conversations, I firmly believe that the vast majority of Americans support de-criminalizing marijuana. Others have spoken eloquently and concisely about how illogical and outlandishly-expensive this nonsense prohibition has become, so I won't repeat the arguments here, but I don't think this is anything other than a junk story in an attempt to generate page-views. Especially given the lack of Disqus-enabled comments.

    January 9, 2014 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  7. Jeremy

    So roughly 30 percent of those polls are absolute morons with no minds of their own! I expected the number to be higher.

    January 9, 2014 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  8. 80% of Americans believe in Harp Weilding Angels

    Please don't try and convince me of something because a "majority of Americans" think a certain way. They've proven themselves unreliable.

    January 9, 2014 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  9. gregor1971

    Making it easier to smoke pot really does a disservice to our young people. So many kids become pot heads so quickly, so easily. They can't study, they can't function, etc. It is really a case where the fight for freedom to do whatever you want has a detrimental effect on young people.

    January 9, 2014 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  10. Cascade

    This poll cannot be trusted or relied upon to give any concrete facts to anyone.

    It's common knowledge that most people in the U.S. have a positive attitude towards legalizing pot, and a negative attitude towards the hypocritical laws which have caused criminal charges for millions of Americans of a natural growing plant, which is not addictive, and has countless medicinal purposes which have been documented time and time again.

    All this while alcohol and tobacco are killing people by the millions, while perfectly legal and heavily taxed, making the government billions every year.

    January 9, 2014 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  11. Hmmmm

    Well, the only reason I'm not sold on it is because it is Federally Illegal. Which means even in Colorado if you smoke it your boss can turn around and fire you even if you are doing it during off hours in the comfort of your own home. As soon as it is straight up legal for rec use I think a lot of preconceptions will vanish. Its just a plant for god's sake put here for our enjoyment by whatever deity you believe in.

    January 9, 2014 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  12. nik green

    The powers that be are maintaining the illegal status of marijuana for several reasons:

    1. the privatized prison industrial complex makes big money from incarcerating and criminalizing smokers.
    2. corrupt elements within law enforcement (federal downwards) make big money from it
    3. organized crime gangs make big money from it
    4. marijuana's beneficial medicinal properties threaten profits of big pharmaceuticals
    5. the traditionalists in society just can't stand to be be proven so wrong on every issue regarding pot... and to avoid losing face, they are doing their level best to maintain the status quo.
    6. sheer psychotic bloody-mindedness – in other words – "if we can make life more difficult for a demographic group who we don't like or disapprove of, then By God, we're going to make it more difficult, end of story".

    January 9, 2014 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  13. DavidG

    I would have to throw the BS flag on this one. I simply do not believe the statistics quoted here. Marijuana will be legal in ALL states within a couple of years. I believe there is overwhelming support for its legalization. This is simply the prohibition of this age. We all saw what happened with prohibition in the past.
    Just to clarify, I am 50 years old, have a fine job, nice home and do not use marijuana. But I also do not think I should keep anyone else from using it either. Heck I would ban alcohol in a second over pot.

    January 9, 2014 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  14. drum

    And CNN surveys are completely bios ;p legalize marijuana everywhere and stay out of the peoples lives.
    ask anywhere and 9 out of 10 people will tell you that they should legalize it and leave it up to the people to decide, not the government... why the phuck have we let the government have so much control to begin with???

    January 9, 2014 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  15. Don B.

    Decriminalizing so that only fines are in place is still irrational. Why should there be any punishment at all for preferring and responsibly using a safer substance than alcohol or tobacco?

    January 9, 2014 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
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