Signs advertise medical marijuana prescriptions outside an evaluation clinic on Venice Beach in Los Angeles. (PHOTO CREDIT: MARK RALSTON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Public support for legalizing marijuana is at an all-time high - no pun intended.
And coincidentally, the Obama administration is easing up on the use of medical marijuana. The Justice Department now says pot-smoking patients and their authorized suppliers shouldn't be targeted for federal prosecution in states that allow the drug for medicinal purposes.
Officials say it's not a good use of prosecutors' time... Although they say agents should pursue marijuana cases that involve violence, the illegal use of firearms, selling pot to minors, money laundering or other crimes.
Supporters say marijuana helps treat chronic pain, nausea and other illnesses... while critics say this move is a step backward in the fight against Mexican drug cartels.
14 states currently allow some use of marijuana for medical reasons. California is especially known for having pot shops everywhere.
A new Gallup poll shows support for legalizing marijuana has shot up in the last few years to 44 percent. 54 percent are opposed. Support for legalizing weed had been fixed at around 25 percent from the late 70s through the mid-90s.
Liberals and younger people are more likely to favor decriminalizing pot... no surprise there... while conservatives and seniors are more likely to be against it.
Gallup suggests that if public support continues growing at the same rate - the majority of Americans could favor legalizing the drug in the next few years. California voters may get to weigh in next year with a ballot initiative to legalize and tax marijuana as a revenue source.
Here’s my question to you:The federal government OKs medical marijuana. Is it the first step toward legalization?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Robert in Eugene, Oregon
Yes, it most certainly is, and it's about time. If there's one thing Mexican drug cartels fear, it's legalization of the drugs they're selling. Millions of Americans are already using marijuana on a regular basis, whether legally for medical purposes or illegally for leisure purposes. Why not take the money out of the hands of Mexican drug cartels and put it into the hands of the U.S. taxpayer?
I have absolutely no problem with marijuana being used for medical purposes. But many people out there undoubtedly would like to abuse this right, so the distribution of medical marijuana needs to be strictly controlled.
Bert from Denver writes:
We can only hope; this is truly change we can believe in.
Kyle from Greensboro, North Carolina writes:
Medical marijuana… brilliant strategy, really. How in the world will anyone be able to oppose healthy people using marijuana after sick people have used it for years without incident? The slippery slope is in sight, folks.
Michelle from Canada writes:
One can only hope. My husband is a paramedic, we have friends and family who are police, and they all say the same thing: they've never gone to an assault caused by pot, alcohol but never pot. Pot is not addictive, has very little side-effects, and contrary to popular belief is not a lead in drug to hard drugs. If that were the case, half of Canada would be addicted to heroin.
Let's hope so. I don't inhale personally, but I can certainly see the myriad benefits of legalizing, regulating and taxing the hell out of marijuana. In one fell-swoop, you'd flood government coffers, reduce violent and petty crime and massively increase revenue for Frito-Lay. I say: smoke 'em if you've got 'em!