Marijuana: Mason Tvert thinks Amendment 64 boosted national poll favoring legalization

Earlier today, Sam Levin posted about business organizations calling for a federal crackdown on Colorado to prevent the implementation of Amendment 64, passed by voters last month. Meanwhile, though, 58 percent of voters quizzed nationwide favor legalizing marijuana according to a new poll -- and activist Mason Tvert thinks the success of A64 and a similar measure in Washington state have a lot to do with that figure.

Tvert, an A64 proponent who's just taken on the new job of communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, feels the amendment's passage "certainly played a role" in the poll results. "The more people hear about others who support ending marijuana prohibition, the more likely they are to be supportive as well. I think one of the most significant impacts of both the Colorado and Washington initiatives passing is the comprehensive public dialogue they've fostered."

The new survey was conducted between November 30 and December 2 by Public Policy Polling. A number of questions related to marijuana were asked (full results below), with the most sweeping of them being "Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?" Of those who answered, 33 percent felt strongly that it should be, with another 25 percent agreeing but not expressing strong feelings.

In addition, individuals were quizzed about whether "President Obama should allow Colorado and Washington to implement" their marijuana laws, or if he should "use federal resources to prevent these laws from taking effect." The breakdown: 47 percent said Obama should not interfere, while 33 percent thought he should, with a sizable 20 percent expressing uncertainty.

Just as intriguing, in Tvert's view, is the way folks answered a broader query: "Do you think marijuana will be legal under federal law within the next 10 years, or not?" The affirmative reply tallied 50 percent, with 37 percent saying it would remain against the law and 12 percent saying they're not sure.

Tvert's interpretation? "Now, 50 percent of Americans, and a majority of people polled, say they believe marijuana will be legal at the federal level within ten years. I don't know what they would have said if they'd been asked prior to these initiatives passing, but I think they likely helped -- and so did the progress we've seen with medical marijuana in Colorado and around the nation.

"The fact that legislatures throughout the country have been taking up marijuana issues, and citizens have been raising them through ballot initiatives in a number of states, demonstrates that there's a significant and increasingly successful movement for ending marijuana prohibition and replacing it with more sensible policies."

How does Tvert feel about the business groups, including several chambers of commerce, calling on the feds to get tough with Colorado over Amendment 64?

Continue for more of our interview with Mason Tvert, and to see the complete poll results. "I think these folks in the business community are on the wrong side of history when it comes to marijuana," Tvert replies. "And I hope they take into consideration the number of businesses this industry has and will produce.

"In regard to medical marijuana, there's been a very positive impact. Not only has regulation resulted in the establishment of a number of new businesses in an entirely new industry, but they've also helped peripheral businesses, because all of them require construction and contracting work and a lot more. They're in need of marketing and legal and accounting work, they're buying insurance policies for their workers. There are all sorts of benefits that are being experienced as a result of that system, and it will be built upon here with the implementation of Amendment 64."

For that reason, Tvert continues, "I don't think these business groups are taking a big-picture, long-term approach to this. And I wouldn't be surprised if, in the future, they will be seeking membership and support from these businesses."

Look below to see the Public Policy Polling results in regard to the latest marijuana-related survey.

Public Policy Polling Marijuana Survey December 2012

More from our Marijuana archive: "Amendment 64: Business organizations ask feds to clamp down on Colorado marijuana measure."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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