Marijuana legalization advocates scored two victories this week, as a Senate Democrat came out in favor of legalization and Missouri moved closer to joining the growing number of states that decriminalize recreational or medicinal pot.
On Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she was dropping her opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana — a significant win for advocates in a state at the forefront of the legalization movement. And the Missouri House advanced a bill that would legalize medical marijuana for residents over 18, with certain conditions.
Federally, pot remains illegal and is classified as a Schedule I drug, alongside substances like heroin and LSD.
But growing public support for legalization is placing new pressure on legislators to back legalization laws, said Keith Stroup, a founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, a leading marijuana advocacy group.
“Realistically what you are seeing is a reflection of higher polling numbers that marijuana legislation has been getting over the last 5 years,” Stroup said in an interview Thursday.
Opponents of legalization argue that campaign contributions are behind the surge in pro-pot support.
Growing public support for marijuana legalization is placing new pressure on legislators to back legalization laws.
“Big money is the answer,” Carla Lowe, the founder of the California-based group Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, said. “That’s the reason you’ve seen movement today.” Lowe added that legalization supporters rarely talk about “all of the social ails that come from the further use of marijuana.”
Here’s a look at where the debate stands.
What happened this week?
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, waded into the debate in an interview with McClatchy, arguing that the federal government should not interfere with California’s pot laws. Voters approved Proposition 64, a ballot referendum to legalize recreational marijuana,