For the first time, the majority of voters in California are backing full legalization of marijuana, marking what many are calling a "breakthrough for marijuana advocates" and a clear repudiation of the War on Drugs and the zero-tolerance policy that has driven local and national drug enforcement for years.
According to a Field Poll, which for decades has been tracking Golden State residents' opinions of marijuana, 55 percent of respondents have indicated clear support for legalization.
Forty-seven percent said they would support the legalization of marijuana with controls "similar to those of alcohol" while eight percent said they would support allowing anyone to purchase it.
The nonpartisan pollsters note that the latest poll indicates a "huge reversal of public sentiment toward marijuana" with just 31 percent favoring strict enforcement of existing laws or passing tougher sanctions, compared with 75 percent of poll respondents in 1969.
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Following the lead of Colorado and Washington state residents, who last November voted to legalize marijuana, the group California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014 is collecting signatures for an initiative to be placed on the state ballot next fall.
Fifty-six percent of the Field Poll respondents said they would be "inclined" to vote yes on the proposed legislation, which would legalize all uses for hemp and cannabis—the plant from which marijuana is derived—and set a standard for intoxication similar to those for alcohol.
“I don’t think it’s any worse than alcohol,” Janice Holland, Kern County resident and poll respondent, told the Sacramento Bee. “So I think at a certain point people have the ability [...] to make decisions about whether or not you want to get high.”