• In the 2016 election, the legalization of marijuana was approved by referendum in California, Nevada and Massachusetts, and medical marijuana was approved in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota. Only Arizona defeated a marijuana legalization initiative.

• “A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 67% of Americans say that the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine.” – Pew Research Center, “America’s New Drug Policy Landscape,” April 2, 2014.

• “I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea,” Obama said. “But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.” – President Barak Obama, November 30, 2016.

• “California’s Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, which diverts nonviolent drug offenders from the correctional system and into treatment, saved a little more than $2,300 per offender over a 30-month post-conviction period….And even though the law resulted in spending more on treatment, health care services and community service supervision, bypassing incarceration still yielded overall savings, said study co-author M. Douglas Anglin, founding director of the UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center….” – The Pump Handle, “Study: Sending nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of prison saves money,” May 24, 2013.

• “Arrests for possessing small amounts of marijuana exceeded those for all violent crimes last year, a new study has found, even as social attitudes toward the drug have changed and a number of cities and states have legalized its use or decriminalized small quantities. And a disproportionate number of those arrested are African-Americans, who smoke marijuana at rates similar to whites but are arrested and prosecuted far more often for having small amounts for personal use, according to the study. The arrests can overwhelm court systems.” The New York Times, October 13, 2016.

• “Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only alcohol and tobacco), and has been used by nearly 100 million Americans. According to government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly….” – org

• The share of Americans who favor legalizing the use of marijuana continues to increase. Today, 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37% say it should be illegal. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed.” — Pew Research Center, October 12, 2016.

• In another recent poll by the Gallup organization, support for legal marijuana was up to 60%, the highest number in a 47-year trend.

• “States are driving the change in marijuana policy because they see the damage created by draconian drug laws on communities, families and state budgets. It’s time the federal government acknowledged these costs and got out of the way of states adopting more rational laws.” Editorial Board, The New York Times, October 19, 2016.

• “Medical marijuana if you do it right you can help thousands of people who are in terrible, desperate situations. On the other hand, if the situation doesn’t work, you can have a public safety debacle.” –Governor Andrew Cuomo.

• Around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning. Similarly, more than 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison, marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose. – org