Founder’s Blog: Majority Support

I am sometimes amazed at the ability of some legalization activists – especially the true believers who want to hold out for full legalization until they can pass a law with no limits on the amount of marijuana an adult can grow or possess, and no limits on who can sell marijuana to whom – to listen to each other and to convince themselves what they are hearing is a reflection of public opinion in this country. This ‘tomato model’, as it is sometimes called, has little appeal beyond those of us who smoke.

Those of us who support marijuana legalization have been thrilled to see the many national polls showing a majority of the country finally support the full legalization of marijuana. According to the Gallup polling organization, 58% of the population now support the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana for adults, regardless of why one smokes. The support for legalization, at only 12% when Gallup first asked this question in 1969, the year before NORML was founded, has slowly gained acceptance – with a modest decline in support between 1977 to 1990, followed by a steady increase that finally broke the 50% mark about three years ago. Several other national polls have since confirmed this result.

However, only about 14% of the country are marijuana smokers – 86% are not. The continued support of a majority of those non-smokers is crucial if we are to continue to move full legalization forward across the country.

(Read the full story on

38 thoughts

  1. This is problematic indeed; should we ever see legalization in full it is likely going to lead to repeal or a controlled circumstance (No growing, limited possession, limits to where and when you can smoke.Who you can sell it to, as referenced by the blog itself) If more people don’t smoke than smoke, opinion can yet be swayed again. Their support now is nice and I’m appreciative of it too; but look what happened to smoking cigarettes. I’m not a big fan but I believe they should still be allowed to smoke. In some places you can’t smoke anywhere but outside. The nonsmokers clearly have a say in what the smokers do because they outnumber them. A future we might see? I think so.

    I say this not because I want to be a downer.
    Gotta see reality the way it is man.
    As heavy as that may seem.

  2. I think that you guys would be surprised to know that a lot of people see this not just as states rights issue but a personal rights issue, so for all those so worried about the kids, they are more worried that they could be arrested for some technicality like what California and Montana endured. With all the regulations such as the unscientific DUI limits that got shot down in California recently but still plagues other states, they don’t want virtually any laws. I for one can’t smoke because of my job but if I were able to, I wouldn’t want virtually any laws, just treat the plant like any other vegetable. The only laws we need are protections against registries so that my job can’t find out I use whether it’s for medical or recreational and so on.

  3. There is a straightforward way to get the mainstream to support cannabis and control marijuana.

    Part 1. (de-schedule cannabis)
    Get rid of the confusing definition of marihuana by urging the people to advocate to their politicians for this simple definition of marijuana which actually shows respect for our Constitution:

    The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L.

    Part 2. (re-schedule marijuana)
    Urge the people to advocate to their politicians to permit the scientists to study un-smoked cannabis vs. smoked cannabis.

    Part 3. (education)
    Urge the people to advocate in their States to experience the economic and medical benefits of cannabis vs. marijuana.

    This year will be a great time to take these actions.

  4. I support the “tomato model”. However, I also see a need for guide lines and age restrictions.

    But I see much larger need for research so we can indeed make good decisions and thus policy regarding marijuana. The current policy model is the government and police are crackers when is comes to marijuana. They arrest, beat and kill you for no reason other than they have been told they are better than us. The current model is ignorance, enemy making and public endangerment. Why do they want such an adversarial relationship?

  5. This raises more questions when only %14 percent of the American population are considered “Marijuana smokers”. You mean Daily smokers? Weekly smokers?Monthly smokers? People that have smoked in the last decade or two? Im sure that there are differences of percentages and subdivisions for each of these categories.

    I think the main reason that support of cannabis legalization has gone to the %58 point,is that the 60 to 70 year old demographic of the population, some who where part of the hippie and the flower child movements of the 60s and early 70s(and the generations after that.) Had exposure to cannabis,or knew somebody that did.

    So it is more difficult, for them, to be hypnotized and brainwashed by the media,and seduced by ’emotion driven hysteria- for the “drug war”,like it was for earlier generations during the Reagan and Bush years.

  6. What an excellent article Mr. Stroup! Note that this well written article was written by a long term marijuana smoker! Proof, as if we needed any more, that marijuana does not cause one to go crazy.

    I believe that the main reason support for legalization was only 12% in 1969 is because at that time so many people believed the lies our Govt spewed about marijuana. Since then, most of us (the most highly educated) have come to realize this and have adjusted our reasoning accordingly. I hope more of our politicians will do likewise in the near future. Quite a few still seem to cling to the lies of the 1930s.

    One more thing I’d like to mention is about Michelle Leonhart. How is it that this sorry excuse for a human being still has a job? She should be in prison for all the harm she has done to our nation in my humble opinion; let alone continue to hold a highly paid position of power!

  7. Using marijuana is NOT a new right as Keith describes. It’s a right that people have ALWAYS had. It’s simply been grossly violated for the last 80 years or so.

    Rights don’t come from a coercive government, granted “permission” however does.

    Free people do not need or require permission from others to own themself.

    I appreciate and acknowledge the hard work of Norml and Keith, but accepting a permission based law as the final answer abets the idea that other people can “own” you. This is wrong.

    [Editor’s note: Keith Stroup’s overall point is that cannabis use is not a ‘right’ in any traditional sense of the word, and that is why consumers have to be ever vigilant against government tyranny re cannabis policy.

    Yours is more a libertarian argument, one that neither NORML or Stroup are attempting to make.]

  8. @ Keith – do you realize that your work may just have saved Maureen Dowd’s life?

    If this drug were alcohol, heroin, codeine, or possibly sugar she could have died. But thanks to NORML and sensible politicians we now see pot as the drug with a built in fail safe.

    14% is not a majority and if you never need it then don’t use it. But some of us don’t want the threat of death as a side effect to our medicine.

  9. Thank you NORML for your continued efforts to stop the insanity!

    Mr. Stroup, you are a great American! I wish I could say the same about our political leaders but a lot of them are more like greedy little kids who kick and scream if they don’t get their way…

  10. In fact, it is exactly this adversarial relationship that is killing public support for the War on Drugs. When the police act like shitheads, they loose public support, it is that simple. The public sees innocent people being arrested and they/we are really getting tired of the “Cracker Bullshit as Policy” model.

  11. To follow up with “Fed-Up,” we have to respect the education factor and the fear factor involved in these polls. How many people that admit they smoke, vaporize or ingest cannabis is directly correlated to the penalties, incarceration and exposure faced from drug-tested employment. It would be safe to deductively reason that the number of cannabis consumers is MUCH higher (no pun intended), than what the polls are telling.
    And what about increasingly popular imported hemp products? Is all this growing consumption being calculated in the polls?
    What about the total yields expected from the 22+ (and growing) states that are growing cannabis right now for medicine or research? Are we calculating the effect this revenue and production is already having on Cannibanking investment, agricultural investment or American supply and demand for cannabis products?
    Since this latest legislation in Congress to cut funding for the DEA, does anyone realize the catapult of investment that’s being injected into cannabis futures and innovations as we write?
    I suspect that just as most American consumers didnt even realize how banking or industrial regulations worked to make the products we purchase out of crude oil or timber, many of us wont even notice how many ways and or in how many products that a legal domestic hemp and marijuana industry is already having on the U.S. economy.
    Ready for hemp cups, plates and paper?
    Ready for herbal, homeopathic and homegrown medicinal marijuana?
    Like it or not, that’s where we’re heading. The choice of regulation in the U.S. has always depended on consumer demand; Corporations have power depending on WHAT WE CHOOSE to PURCHASE and CONSUME as Americans; even if we have been coerced under a police state of corrupt prohibition.
    The access to consumer information and education on the internet and information on how to get safe cannabis products like Dr. Bronner’s hemp soaps all the way to eventually purchasing our marijuana on Amazon is only being made more accessible every day.
    The truth is, no other crop or plant on earth has the ability to regulate us as human beings the same if not more than we regulate it than cannabis. Our entire homeostasis and endocannabinoid system has evolved in coexistence with this unique plant for as long as we evolved from fish in the ocean. The truth is we can’t “control” the “substance” of cannabis without “controlling” ourselves… which is to say we can’t control it… After 45 years of tax-payer and asset forfeiture funded DEA cannabis eradication, they couldn’t even WIPE IT OUT!!!
    Forget the tomato model; cannabis is in a model of its own.

  12. Ditto on that notion that most Americans would not agree to laissez faire laws on cannabis so legalization means regulation. I’m thinking, at first, in some states you won’t be able to grow your own because the state really needs the money and that’s why it legalized in the first place. The 86% is after the money from the cannabis community, the only ones willing to pay more taxes and fees. The 86% doesn’t want to pay more, and doesn’t want new taxes upon themselves.

    At some point once the mass legalization has taken place, nationwide then worldwide, things will ease up on the home growing, like hopefully the price of seeds will come down, and sales of seeds will be legal, too. Once the novelty wears off, it will become like cigarettes, i.e. most people will not want to grown their own and will simply buy the finished product. I live in tobacco country, and most people who use tobacco buy the finished product, and if they grow tobacco in their gardens it’s for ornamental purposes. Cannabists and cannabis hobbyists, even now, ought to be able to buy the seeds of strains and grow their own. Something I’d like to see in Colorado and Washington.

    The CBD only states that have jumped on are not serving the other people who can benefit from the other types of cannabis.

    Maureen Dowd didn’t die. She didn’t suffer brain damage, either. I kind of feel sorry for her but she can now be the poster girl for following the guidelines and doing your homework before ingesting medibles, while at the same time being the poster girl for how all that still won’t hurt you permanently or long term.

    Now, I have ask the question as to whether she would have smoked if it weren’t so freakin’ hard to find a place to smoke, so instead she ate something instead? That’s a huge ass problem in Colorado for pot tourists, you know, it ain’t like a Dutch coffeeshop where you can blaze inside. She couldn’t smoke in the hotel room, I’ll bet.

    Places to smoke, big problem, needs to be solved.

  13. A bit off topic, but I saw that octogenarian Willie Nelson earned some kind of 5th level black belt recently. I play guitar, but I stopped with the twai kwon doe when I started breaking bones.

  14. “Keith Stroup’s overall point is that cannabis use is not a ‘right’ in any traditional sense of the word, and that is why consumers have to be ever vigilant against government tyranny re cannabis policy. Yours is more a libertarian argument, one that neither NORML or Stroup are attempting to make.”

    While _Cannabis_ in and of itself is not right per say, government officials are not allowed to use bullshit excuses like _Cannabis_ as an reason to arrest and abuse people. It is not a Libertarian view point; it is an American point of view. Anytime the government is lying to people, they are have lost legitimacy which is why this Insane Policy is now the Walking Dead. When will this damn zombie die already?

    Why do you think the NSA originally said it doesn’t spy on Americans and Head of State in Other Countries? Because it isn’t legal!!!!! And it just continues to reinforce the idea Americans are Arrogant Pricks. If you lie to a cop, they can charge you with a crime. But they can lie to us all day long and claim, “its policy”.

    If Romney had won, I would not be surprised the Arrogant Shit would order the NSA to gather information by hacking/breaking laws and then pass the proprietary information off to friendly corporations. Like what the US just charged the Chinese with.

  15. @Galileo,
    And Willie’s got arthritis! No wonder he smokes so much weed. How’d you like to play guittar for a living and deal with that? He’s still touring! I heard an NPR show with him on once. He said he stopped smoking cigarettes because of weed. So did I when I was 17. He said, “I’da smoked the bark off a tree when I was 18. I knew the whiskey and the smoke was gonna kill me, so somethin had to give, and I chose marijuana. I believe thats why im still around. …Just google ‘marijuana cures cancer’… You’ll be surprised what you’ll find.”

  16. And Willie’s daughters are hot. I dont know if that’s marijuana related, but them’s some healthy-lookin country girls.

  17. Since the 1990’s, there has been technological advances that will forever change the potential dynamic between cannabis consumers and the rest of America. Most notably is low-cost very portable and discreet vaporizers. If cannabis consumers would cooperate, concerns of smell and health risk from smoking could be totally eliminated. Vaporizing instead of smoking should be strongly encouraged by Norml. As the commercialization of cannabis continues, the public will more commonly think of edibles when discussing cannabis. This removes the conflict some have with media messages of healthy living and cannabis use.

    Another advancement is lowered cost of LED lights and compact fluorescents. These energy efficient, low heat lights make growing micro-gardens in small spaces much safer. No special wiring or concerns about venting. In the future the public may see small cannabis gardens as an appropriate activity for elderly and disabled patients. If small grows are seen as therapeutic activity, American culture may embrace small grows long term. Especially if assistance with safety is embraced by retirement communities.

  18. Thank-you for all your support on legalizing marijuana – I think more people than 14% are smokers as you can’t really count the ones in hiding.
    I hope to see you endorsed candidates for 2014 nov elections.
    Greg Holder needs to keep his promise he made in feb 2013 that he would have an answer to American people soon. Soon is up mr holder!!

  19. @Julian

    That’s inspiring. I’m 64 and remember the sight of my 80 year old mother’s misshapen knuckles.

  20. @New York is absolutely right about the VAPE (no pollution) revolution. NORML should campaign to get pictures of “joints” banned from cannabis-related articles wherever published.

    Maybe when PEN VAPE prices dip below $10 this won’t matter so much, but meanwhile you can learn how to make a Flexible Extended Drawtube Socket-Wrench One-Hitter or a Flexible Extended Drawtube Hose-Nipple One-Hitter out of under $1.29 worth of parts at Pipes from Everyday Objects.

    Yes you CAN pretty much vaporize (don’t quite ignite) with a one-hitter, the flexible drawtube helps you control what you’re doing and cools the vapors before inhalation.

    And you inhale 100% of everything. Afterwards, rebreathe 30 warm wet W’s in and out of a Lunchspielhaus (breadbag).

  21. @Julian, regarding co-evolution with cannabis you might want to check the essay at Women dragging hempstalks to the house to burn in the cooking fire (everyone in the kitchen inhaled smoke, right) unknowingly let some seeds fall among human dungpiles near the house, and the rest was zoobotanic.

    A remaining question: since humans evolved in Africa and didn’t infiltrate Asia till maybe the last 100,000 years, how would they have contacted cannabis which was a southern Asia native? Or why would animals everywhere, not just southern Asia, have endocannabinoids before comparatively recent times?

  22. Tis a beautiful moment that shines the light of tolerance upon the corrupt and unenlightened.

  23. @Mexweed,
    Careful; we’re bringing up a “what came first, the chicken or the egg” argument and archeologists get paid in real grant money to determine when the “chicken” gets to be called a “chicken.”
    In order to understand how deep and ancient our endocannabinoid system goes we need to first accept that humans are animals, and mammals are much more alike than unalike. That sounds obvious, but some people still get offended.
    Whats not so obvious, unless we look at ancient lungfish excavations or compare human and fish embryos, is that humans evolved from fish. Now study the puffer fish, wich contains its own endocannabinoids.
    What we are dealing with is a dilemma of the very definition of endo and exocannabinoids.
    Essentially, “endocannabinoids” are defined as protein receptors, or lipids, that act like keys to stimulate a variety of neurological and physioligical functions within the human endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids are produced from within the human body through the endocannabinoid system, including but not limited to the pituitary gland, the thyroid, the hippocampus and most major organs. (CB1 resides mainly in the brain while CB2 regulates functions from the intestines and major organs).
    So what about every cannabinoid outside the human body? Wikipedia doesnt even have a definition for the word “exocannabinoid.” But we know they exist… Animals, birds, cannabis and puffer fish all produce their own supplies.
    “Exocannabinoids” could be defined vaguely as “all other cannabinoids produced naturally outside the human body.” I will not include synthetic cannabinoids in this example, since they lack the complex protein structure required to properly activate key receptors in the human body. (Not to mention they appear to be the source of the latest propoganda here in Texas; see KVUE news, 6-5-14).
    Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the average cannabis plant has at least 40-45 different active cannabinoids that work together medicinally within the human body, which is the primary reason synthetic and single-molecule-patent modeled pharmacueticals fail to provide the quality of therapy and nutrition cannabis provides.
    Cannabis contains all of the essential amino acids required by the human body. While we can thank our ancestors, millenia of cultivation and the cannabis plant itself for this marvel of nature, certainly we can imagine a time when the cannabis crop was more wild, less nutritious and less productive to human beings. Does this mean our ancient ancestors were not consuming the ancient ancestor of cannabis? Ill bet they were. And if all animals produce cannabinoids, whether we call them “exo” or “endo,” who is to say our animal cousins werent proliferating the evolution of marijuana’s remarkable cannabinoid-protein-making ability long before an archeologist at the Smithsonian Institute would be satisfied to say, “and that is where and when cannabis was born.”?
    What we know for certain is that no other cannabinoid in other animals quite simulates nor stimulates our own human endocannabinoid system the way the cannabis plant does.
    Some ancestor came before cannabis that produced exocannabinoids. This remarkable ability is clearly not indigenous even to cannabis; mammals, birds and puffer fish produce cannabinoids independently of each other.
    After we contemplate that puffer fish not only produce cannabinoids, but fish and human embryos look virtually identical; Who are we to say where or when plants began their cannabinoid journey?
    Understanding our own evolution is crucial to identifying the definition of cannabinoids of all kinds. And understanding these definitions is vital to writing comprehensive cannabis legislation.
    The lack of definition of “exocannabinoids” reveals the moral dilemma of our Patent office, NIDA and the DHHS that simultaneously patents and denies “cannabinoids.” Google and read “patent …507;” there is little definition to distinguish endo or exo cannabinoids. So what is our government trying to say? “We own the cannabinoids in all plants and animals? Humans too? If we cant define an exocannabinoid, its no wonder we have a government that unjustly and unconstitutionally attempts to prohibit and patent whatever definition we allow.
    The real question is, should we allow anyone to patent or prohibit ANY living proteins at all?

  24. The following definition of “cannabinoid” is written under “patent 6630507“ and is copied from the website of the U.S. Patent Office. After reading the entire document, there is no definition to distinguish the patent from endo or exo cannabinoids, and perhaps more disturbingly, they apparently misspelled the word “sativa” with “saliva.”

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Patent 6330507 ;
    Definition of Cannabinoids:

    “As used herein, a “cannabinoid” is a chemical compound (such as cannabinol, THC or cannabidiol) that is found in the plant species Cannabis saliva (marijuana), and metabolites and synthetic analogues thereof that may or may not have psychoactive properties. Cannabinoids therefore include (without limitation) compounds (such as THC) that have high affinity for the cannabinoid receptor (for example K.sub.i <250 nM), and compounds that do not have significant affinity for the cannabinoid receptor (such as cannabidiol, CBD). Cannabinoids also include compounds that have a characteristic dibenzopyran ring structure (of the type seen in THC) and cannabinoids which do not possess a pyran ring (such as cannabidiol). Hence a partial list of cannabinoids includes THC, CBD, dimethyl heptylpentyl cannabidiol (DMHP-CBD), 6,12-dihydro-6-hydroxy-cannabidiol (described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,227,537, incorporated by reference); (3S,4R)-7-hydroxy-.DELTA..sup.6 -tetrahydrocannabinol homologs and derivatives described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,876,276, incorporated by reference; (+)-4-[4-DMH-2,6-diacetoxy-phenyl]-2-carboxy-6,6-dimethylbicyclo[3.1. 1]hept-2-en, and other 4-phenylpinene derivatives disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,434,295, which is incorporated by reference; and cannabidiol (-)(CBD) analogs such as (-)CBD-monomethylether, (-)CBD dimethyl ether; (-)CBD diacetate; (-)3'-acetyl-CBD monoacetate; and .+-.AF11, all of which are disclosed in Consroe et al., J. Clin. Phannacol. 21:428S-436S, 1981, which is also incorporated by reference. Many other cannabinoids are similarly disclosed in Agurell et al., Pharmacol. Rev. 38:31-43, 1986, which is also incorporated by reference."

    Since this study was conducted primarily on rats, the lack of definition for the cannabinoid patent begs the questions; Does anyone smell a rat? Does this broad definition for cannabis pertain to the entire "rat race?" Does the replacement of "saliva" for "sativa" give patent authority to saliva in general? Just what kind of reprecussions does this kind of ambiguous lack of "exo" or "endo" prefix to a broad definition… That clearly includes human cannabinoids… have in legal terms for prosecution, legislation and property rights?

  25. I support full legalization, reasonable rights for those who wish to grow their own marijuana, a legal market for growers and buyers and a total end to drug testing.

  26. @Mexweed,
    (Since my last two posts werent long enough), I left something crucial out… Speciation. South central Asia is where the first evidence… So far… That humans and cannabis met… For as long as we call “humans” human or “cannabis” cannabis. However, the cannabis fossil record is lacking. And if what we call “humans” evolved only 100,000 or 1 million years ago, then were not including our ape ancestor, homo erectus, that migrated to central Asia at least 1.7 million years ago. Ethnobotanists, archeologists and the like are tracing and digging up the layers of genetic identities up to the point where the plant or animal can “no longer produce fertile offspring.” A common example among animals would be a donkey and a horse; they can create a mule or a jenning, but neither mule or jenning can make another baby. In the world of weed we know these hydroponic hybrids very well. These crossbred, seedless, potent wonders fill the shelves of marijuana dispensaries from Colorado to Amsterdam. Likewise, a single species can be as diverse as hemp and marijuana; both cannabis sativa; or like a german sheppard and a chihuahua; both canines. Both examples can produce fertile offspring, but… With largely undesired results.
    The following website “HerbMuseum” says that cannabis arrived on earth as early as 34 million years ago, based on the seven shared parasites with cannabis’ sister group, urticacea, (the nettle) family, and the lack of any shared parasites with the Moraceae, (mulberry family).

    One thing is certain; modern humans and our ancient civilizations evolved together with cannabis… With all our human and cannabinoid family varieties. Our speech, self-awareness, communication skills… Perhaps even our humanity… May very well have evolved in coevolution with cannabis between 1 and 2 million years ago when our ancestors learned to control fire… And as Mexweed suggests, a fire-gatherer dragged some cannabis seeds through the dung and threw the stalk and leaves into the fire. As the sparks rolled up to the stars, we can imagine our ancestors gathered around the fire, sharing stories and contemplating their own origins…

  27. The tomato model is valid. Yeah premium Canadian tomato’s grown from heirloom canary seeds, hydroponically, using the best bat guano, harvested by naked virgins, and blessed by the Deli Lama himself, then sold by a 18 year old punk for 300 dollars an ounce. ” Wow man Its cronic so you only have to take one hit to get high.” “Get lost punk.”

    This morning at the market tomato’s were 1.49 a lb, broccoli was 1.19 a lb, and sugar was 2.49 for a four pound bag. How long do you think sugar would stay less then one dollar a pound if it became illegal? I bought sugar because i wanted some to put in my coffee not because I’m an addict and the victim of a drug pusher, and I don’t think I need anyone’s permission to put sugar in my coffee!

  28. aS EX MILITARY. I was hit with gout and blood clots at the age of 29. i cant hol d a job for more then a few months without its excrutiating pain. I am sick of having to go out and buy narcotics since doctors are so anal. PLEASE get these votes passed in new york. I want to walk relatively free and work again.

  29. 14%??? That has to be only the (very) few that choose to admit. Many smokers/vapers choose to remain in the closet due to the severe penalties. At last personal count, the % was more like 80%!!

  30. Majority support is in full swing – hope more people past the 14% start coming out the closet.
    Big hurray for DPA on their newest report about DEA. They got all the points right about getting rid of DEA.

  31. We need to petition Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services to end prohibition of cannabinoids, or any living proteins, and file patent “507” as “open source.”
    Any suggestions NORML?

Leave a Reply