Jan 17, 2017 12:20 PM

Nearly 70 Percent of Police Officers Support Marijuana Legalization, Survey Shows

Despite police being considered a rather conservative group, a recent national survey shows that two in three cops support marijuana legalization.

Pew Research Center has recently carried out a National Survey of Law Enforcement Officers among 8,000 of policemen and sheriffs. The findings surprised the researchers, as only 30 percent of respondents expressed their opposition to marijuana legalization. Nearly 32 percent of cops said that they supported weed legalization for personal or medical purposes and that the current weed laws should be relaxed, while 37 percent backed only the medical use of marijuana.

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The poll also compared these findings with the answers provided by the general public. The analysis showed that 84 percent were in favor of medical marijuana use and/or recreational cannabis use by adults, while only 15 percent were against marijuana legalization.

The researchers also noticed a generation gap in the responses provided. Specifically, 37 percent of law enforcement officers under the age of 32 supported the use of marijuana by adults, while only 27 percent of cops aged between 50 and 60 expressed their approval of the recreational use of weed.

In contrast, civilians of the same age backed marijuana more actively: 67 and 45 percent of respondents, respectively, had a positive attitude to weed use.

The police remain among the most staunch opponents of marijuana legalization. Before November's voting, several law enforcement interest groups donated significant amounts of money to carry out a massive anti-marijuana campaign. These groups formed the most active opposition to marijuana initiatives in Arizona and California. Their main argument was that marijuana abuse might lead to a possible increase of accidents among drivers and young adults.

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One of the most important questions that should be answered by every country with legalized cannabis is how the police will check whether an individual is too impaired to drive. Police from Vancouver has recently unveiled a new device that will test for impairment from cannabis, opiates, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

However, the survey results show that police officers are changing their negative views on marijuana; only 1 in 3 cops is now against any form marijuana legalization.

According to Diane Goldstein, a retired Lieutenant Commander for the Redondo Beach Police Department, law enforcement officers have such a negative attitude to weed because of experience dealing with drug-war-oriented accidents and unscientific materials.

The Pew survey was conducted online between May 19 and Aug. 14, 2016. It included the answers of 7,917 police officers and approximately 100 sheriffs from 54 law enforcement departments. The margin of sampling error is stated to be between 2 and 3 percent.

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