CNN Poll: Public not sold yet on Colorado marijuana law
January 8th, 2014
08:00 PM ET
6 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. Gt

    Lets see what happen to the teenagers....I bet something bad...and watch how many lawyers find these legal pot growers fair game

    January 8, 2014 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Nothing wrong with it. Alcohol, tobacco, etc...

    January 8, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  3. Dan

    Unfortunately, most of the people who want to 'wait and see' will base their ultimate opinions off sensationalist headlines and demagoguery, not anything related to the actual impact on health, safety, cartel revenue, crime, etc.

    January 8, 2014 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  4. MICHAEL WHITE

    People will find out marijuana is like a wild animal..once it is out, it's hard to control. You can expect increased drug use especially among teens. Marijuana degrades mental and intellectual capabilities and considering how U.S. students are so far behind other industrialized nations in education, this will only put us farther behind. There are also safety and health concerns from recreational use of it. There is a reason why China and India have better student populations...they look down on drug use.

    January 8, 2014 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  5. Just Say No

    Can opened. Worms... everywhere. This will not go along without repercussions.

    January 8, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  6. FREE THE WEED

    They ran out of weed the experiment is over. bogarts!

    January 8, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  7. Polecat

    Why such a big deal with pot already? If adults want to smoke pot rather than drink a beer or glass of wine than they should absolutely be able to. No penalties, no fines no problems. Big mistake in judgement criminalizing in the first place. Huge waste of resources applied to a harmless plant. If nothing else, legal purchase will certainly reduce crime associated with illicit purchases and keep some revenue out of cartel pockets. I believe that legalization needs to occur in all the States quickly. It is common sense....

    January 8, 2014 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  8. Non thinker

    "most Americans (79%) continue to believe that the penalty for possession of small amounts of pot should be a fine, not jail time"

    Is there a fine for getting wasted on alcohol, something far more dangerous, damaging, and potentially lethal?

    January 8, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  9. RT

    I think the kind of, "I'm OK with this (or at least not against it), but let's see the experimental results since we have them, before we just go plowing ahead" approach is the best way to do something like this. As a pharmacist, I think medical marijuana should be legal like any other substance. And from a personal liberty standpoint, I believe it should be legal exactly how alcohol/tobacco are (including regulatory framework). But I recognize once you talk about legalization, things get complicated quickly. For instance, if we continue to schedule marijuana as a controlled substance for medical use, it would never be possible to legally sell it over the counter (from a federal viewpoint), as it is both a controlled substance and a prescription legend drug). The system is very much built around it being illegal, so careful observation and thought will be needed to identify all these potential areas of conflict. In the flowchart "Step 1: Weed Step 2: ?? Step 3: PROFIT", this observation may be our elusive Step 2.

    January 8, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  10. sagewy

    I think America is sold on pot; look at the record sales!

    January 8, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  11. kipper215

    Drug companies have done a good job controlling congress and manipulating the public perception of weed. All you have to do is look at who benefits from weed being illegal. let's see...the US government as they spend our tax dollars on enforce laws that make no sense, drug companies as they sell us drugs with so many side affects that they are even more dangerous than heroin (just listen to the disclaimers in the commercials they push), the Mexican drug cartel, which by the way triggers more government spending, the prison system as they get money from the government to house inmates for minor drug offenses. I can go on and on. Making this drug legal takes the power away from the Mexican drug cartel as this is where they get most of their money from SELLING WEED TO THE US. It's a step towards stopping our government from wasteful spending as they can focus on more serious crimes.

    January 8, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  12. Whitey Cake

    I guess John Denver really knew what he was talking about when he sang "Rocky Mountain High".

    January 8, 2014 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  13. dave

    Prohibition did not work ! when alcohol became legal ,gangsters fell off as well ! When this so called land of freedom and liberty pulls its head out of its butt we the people should have the freedom to indulge in any form of relaxing methods so long as that individual does no harm or damage to another ! Legalize pot and you wipe out the cartel. tax it with a reasonable amount and the revenue gained will provide benefits and opportunities far greater than locking up an individual. Thank our stars that atleast one country has the foresight to lead the way for hopefull global reform.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  14. Beechwwod1

    A Fine instead of jail time? Well, that just makes it a Legal shakedown by police and the Government. It's either a crime against people or it's Not! If it's truly bad then make it illegal. A fine instead of jail is just the wisdom of SHEEP Sitting on a FENCE!!

    January 8, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  15. S. B. Stein

    There needs to be more scientific research to see if any of the pro-marijuana groups and their statements are accurate. If there is something to their stories, then it should reviewed with skepticism but possible hope if it can help people.

    January 8, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  16. Dave

    You're not really surprised people want to try the system first. Come on.

    January 8, 2014 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  17. andrew

    I support the Colorado initiative and I'm proud of the people for standing up tall and voting down and shouting down the ones who have been fibbing about pot for so many, many decades.

    January 8, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  18. svann

    What is the penalty for violation of federal law against possession of MJ? I dont think Ive ever heard of anyone being charged federally, except for possession on federal land and smuggling. But not simple possession.

    January 8, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  19. Theodore Hyczko

    Should people in Texas ignore federal gun laws cause they disagree with them?

    January 8, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  20. Me

    More jobs for illegal gang members!

    January 8, 2014 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  21. Aeroman08

    28% of Americans are grossly misinformed and have their head in the sand.

    January 8, 2014 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. Talk from CO

    In the last year we have seen a large increase very bad behaviors in CO. This is stemming from the drug crazed population.

    January 8, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  23. Greg

    Same stuff was said about cigarettes 40 years ago. Now there are millions of dead people; but Marijuana is different. No it won't!

    January 8, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  24. Hooper

    Which public, where. The public must consist of the uneducated and ill informed if this be the case. In another story more and more states are looking to decriminalize, if not outright pass laws allowing the legal sale of pot in their states. They've seen a source of possible income, and they're not letting go of the possibilities.

    January 8, 2014 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  25. Kevin

    The law literally went into effect one week ago. Who at the CNN NewsRoom is stupid enough to think polling would move drastically in one week?

    January 9, 2014 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
1 2