Marijuana News

Decriminalize It, Legalize It, Everything.

The Marijuana Moment released findings from a new poll conducted by Data for Progress and the Lab. I was a social science major in undergraduate. Basic study of social science reveals that there is no unbiased scientific research. As the inquiry begins with a goal and is funded for a purpose. The wording of these questions is somewhat comical. However, I see the point of the survey. Is it possible the authors are purposely attempting to sway long held beliefs by asking the questions in this fashion. Let’s look at some key questions presented.  

The first question presented by the Marijuana Moment in their report is “Congress is currently considering legislation that would reform federal drug policies. Which of the following comes closer to your view, even if neither is exactly right? The choices are that “federal drug policies are not working and we need to reform them”; or “the current federal drug policies are working, and there is no need to reform them” (and there is an option for “I don’t know”.  

According to the Marijuana Moment 72% of people polled across all political affiliations said, “federal drug policies are not working and we need to reform them”.  This is a cleverly worded question to manipulate a desired response. To frame the question that Congress is considering legislation pushed the reader towards accepting a process already in motion.  

Respondents were also asked “would you support or oppose decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of controlled substances”. The responses were on a Likert Scale; meaning strong support, somewhat support, do not know, somewhat oppose, strongly oppose to represent a 1 through 5 point rating. Now that’s about 60% of respondents throughout all political parties either strongly or somewhat supported “decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of controlled substances” , the Marijuana Moment reported.  

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Respondents were then asked “would you support or oppose decriminalizing the intent to distribute controlled substances when it is amounts that are only intended for personal use?”. The responses were again on a Likert Scale; meaning strong support, somewhat support, do not know, somewhat oppose, strongly oppose to represent a 1 through 5 point rating. That’s about 55% of respondents throughout all political parties either strongly or somewhat supported, “decriminalizing the intent to distribute controlled substances when it is amounts that are only intended for personal use”, according to the Marijuana Moment. These numbers are skewed to the middle as only 38% of Republicans support such a proposal.

I appreciate the implementation of such a survey. Is the intent to sway people’s opinions by asking certain questions? Definitely. However, are we aware that our American perceptions towards controlled substances and the stigma of who sells and uses them have been manipulated for decades? While the “war on drugs”, was being waged TV shows like COPS with the “Bad Boy” theme song, 80s movies depicting the cities as war zones of moral decadence, and movies of stoner and lazy users all shaped a mindset that supported locking up people in “urban” areas for doing things folks turned a blind eye to in other areas. We have a long way to go to change perceptions about cannabis use, let alone the criminal stigma of controlled substances.

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