Marijuana Legalization May Be Unstoppable

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On Tuesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder told America to expect a decision “soon” on how he’ll respond to the recent legalization of pot by Colorado and Washington state. To which the rest of the country has basically said, “Whatever, dude.” The same day, legislative committees in New Mexico and Hawaii approved bills to decriminalize marijuana possession and Oregon lawmakers introduced a legalization bill. Yesterday, Rhode Island legislators held a hearing on a bill to—surprise!—legalize and tax marijuana.

In California, where Holder’s Justice Department has spent months trying to shut down respected medical-pot dispensaries, a Field Poll (PDF) released yesterday showed that 67 percent of state voters oppose the move. A 54 to 43 percent majority now backs fully legalizing the sale of cannabis and regulating and taxing it like alcohol.

Rolling Stone‘s Tim Dickinson predicts that California, Oregon, and five other states will soon follow Washington and Colorado’s lead and embrace the right to smoke up. And most American voters believe that the feds should let them. Even in the relatively conservative states of Florida, Iowa, and Kentucky, polls released in the past week have shown majority support for recently proposed medical-marijuana laws.

What’s more, national polls are increasingly showing most Americans supporting legalization on the federal scale. So maybe Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) weren’t just pipe dreaming earlier this month when they introduced bills to remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and impose a federal excise tax on pot sales.

All of which is to say, pity poor Eric Holder. If he caves, the GOP will call for his hide. But if he cracks down, he’ll face the wrath of the mellow masses.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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