A slim majority of Americans, 51%, favor legalizing the use of marijuana — similar to the 50% who supported it in 2011 and 2012, but down from a reading of 58% last year. Gallup’s long-term trend on Americans’ support for legalizing marijuana shows that in 1969, just 12% of U.S. adults were in favor. But that swelled to 28% by the late 1970s, and 34% by 2003. As long as support hovers around the 50% mark, it will be difficult for proponents to promote legalization beyond the more Democratic and liberal-oriented states. The South and Midwest are likely to remain less hospitable, at least for the time being. But with a super-majority of younger Americans supportive – 64% of those aged 18 to 34, contrasted with 41% of those 55 and older — it seems inevitable that this will eventually change.
The New York Police Department ordered its narcotics unit to stop its marijuana “buy-and-bust” policing tool. The “buy-and-bust,” or “decoy,” practice is when a plainclothes officer approaches a would-be drug seller asking for a bag of marijuana and, during the arrest, searches for other illegal contraband like guns. When the suspect is booked, police have his fingerprints and photo on file, which becomes useful if he is involved in a crime later. The head of each police borough’s narcotics unit was summoned to NYPD headquarters last week. At the meeting, Chief of Narcotics Brian McCarthy told the commanders to shift their attention to more potent drugs. “We have to focus on controlled substances,” he said, according to the New York Post. “There’s a pill and heroin problem in the city, and we have to focus on that. The powers that be don’t want to see any more of these [pot] arrests … This is all about arresting minorities, and this is just one way to arrest less minorities.” In response, the president of the Police Sergeants Benevolent Association called the end of buy-and-bust “clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society.”
Supporters of legalized marijuana are getting an early start on an initiative that could put the issue to a public vote on Missouri’s 2016 ballot. A pro-marijuana initiative was the first item submitted to the secretary of state’s office on the first day possible to propose measures for the next general election. The proposed constitutional amendment would make it legal to produce, sell and use marijuana in Missouri for people age 21 and older. The goal is to tax and regulate marijuana in a similar way as alcohol, said NORML attorney Dan Viets, who submitted the measure. Although some Missouri cities already have passed local ordinances decriminalizing marijuana possession, it remains a state crime punishable by up to a year in prison to possess up to 35 grams. A state criminal code revision set to take effect in 2017 would remove the possibility of jail time for first-time offenders convicted of possessing less than 10 grams.
Regulate Rhode Island is putting together a coalition of citizens and organizations to make a push in the General Assembly in 2015 to become the fifth state in the nation to legalize marijuana. Jared Moffat, of Regulate Rhode Island, said it appears that at least five more states could approve the legalization of the drug by 2016. In 2014, Rep. Edith Ajello, D-Providence, and Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, led the charge to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island and generate tax revenue for the struggling state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The proposed law change died in the General Assembly. Moffat also has recruited the support of Elizabeth A. Comery, a retired Providence police officer, and Dr. James Crowley, a physician and former president of the Rhode Island Medical Society.
State health officials on Friday approved a highly coveted license for Boston’s first medical marijuana dispensary, selecting Patriot Care Corp. to run a location near Downtown Crossing. The company, which was already set for a similar facility in Lowell., also won permission Friday for a Greenfield location, making it the only company in position to run three dispensaries in the state. Patriot Care and three other companies were invited in June to apply for licenses in any of the seven counties, including Suffolk, that were without any approved medical marijuana facilities. State health regulators said they selected those companies because they had scored well when vying for dispensaries in other locations where licenses had already been awarded.