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The SAM Old Half-Truths About Cannabis Legalization

The SAM Old Half-Truths About Cannabis Legalization
PHOTO francois schnell

Joint Opinions

The SAM Old Half-Truths About Cannabis Legalization

New Project SAM poll finds only 11% support for marijuana prohibition.

The cannabis prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) recently released a poll on American’s rate of support for legalized cannabis.

As you might expect from the Reefer Madness crowd, their press release about the poll proudly claims, “68 percent of Americans favor marijuana policies other than legalization.” That result comes in stark contrast to the 66 percent of Americans Gallop found who supported adult-use legalization, the 62 percent that Pew found who support adult use legalization as well as the 63 percent who supported adult-use legalization and 93 percent that supported medical cannabis which Quinnipiac found.

So why is there such a big difference? The answer lies in the fact that polling data can be read a lot of different ways. While SAM read its data as saying “68 percent of Americans favor marijuana policies other than legalization,” it is important to understand how the organization reached that number. As opposed to past polling on the issue, like with Quinnipiac, where survey takers could choose that they supported both adult use and medical legalization, SAM’s poll forced people to choose just one. Question five of the poll asks, “Which of the following federal marijuana policies do you favor?” The four answers participants had to choose from are full legalization (33 percent), medical-only (39 percent), decriminalization (18 percent), and prohibition (11 percent).

To reach that 68 percent figure, SAM lumped together the people who support prohibition with those who want to see cannabis decriminalized and legalized for medical use. So not only was the poll constructed in such a way as to pit adult use cannabis legalization against medical legalization, SAM presented its findings in the most misleading way possible. Kevin Sabet, the president of SAM, has even said, “I don’t like the term decriminalization, because it’s used interchangeably with legalization.” Given that SAM recognizes that decriminalization is a form of legalization, it is odd that they would lump it together with prohibition to reach that 68 percent figure from their press release.

A more accurate way to read Project SAM’s data is that a poll funded by a prohibitionist group found that 89 percent of Americans oppose prohibition. Another way to read the data is that 72 percent of Americans support either full legalization or medical-only cannabis legalization. That 72 percent support for legalization in some form is more in line with what previous polls found than the 68 percent opposition to legalization that SAM claimed in their press release.

Now that cannabis is legal in some form in over two-thirds of states and that strong majorities of Americans support legalization in every major poll being conducted, SAM seems so desperate for relevancy that it has resorted to distorting polling data to try and prove a point. This sort of deceptive twisting of scientific data is nothing new to SAM but this polling shows a renewed desperation, the death rattle of a failed political movement whose own poll doesn’t even show a third of the U.S. supporting the organization’s cause. Cannabis advocates should be grateful to SAM for spending all that money doing this poll, and conclusively showing that 89 percent of Americans disagree with their message and think cannabis prohibition is wrong.

SAM’s panic makes sense since sources ranging from former congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Kevin Murphy the CEO of Acreage Holdings and even Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci have all predicted that 2019 will be the year for cannabis legalization and that Donald Trump will be the man to do it. As legalized cannabis is one of the few bipartisan issues Trump could try to make happen for an easy Republican win going into re-election, he would be a moron not to try it, especially since all 2020 Democratic candidates have expressed support for legalizing cannabis. If Donald Trump doesn’t legalize cannabis this year, it is predicted to be unlikely that he won’t be able to attract enough swing voters to be re-elected, which means legalizing cannabis could be a political victory that goes to the Democrats after the 2020 election.

TELL US, do you think Trump will legalize cannabis?

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