Today's release of a Field Poll indicating "record high support" for marijuana legalization -- and the accompanying cavalcade of clever (for newspapers) puns in headlines -- signals what many have known for some time, even before Washington and Colorado shot ahead of California: Cannabis legalization is a real issue, and it's spectacular.
And spectacularly stalled-out, despite the 54 percent of Californians who say they want the magic plant legalized (which means at least 10 percent of them changed their minds over the last two years). As last year's epic fail displayed, marijuana legalization is still a pipe dream in the Golden State, where even regulating medical marijuana has been an impossible task for lawmakers. Only the voters -- and an attendant billionaire willing to fork over cash to put it on the ballot -- can change anything. And that sugar daddy has yet to emerge.
First, let us remember that in 2010, a Field Poll reported that a dead-even 50 percent of California voters polled indicated they'd support marijuana legalization. That same year, when they had their chance with Proposition 19, at least some of them flipped in order for that legalization effort to fall, 53.5 percent no to 46.5 percent yes.
Now, to this poll. Unsurprisingly, there's nearly a 2-to-1 support in favor of legalization in the nine-county Bay Area, the cradle of the American medical cannabis movement. Legalization's staunchest opponents remain Republican, women, and people over 65. Latino voters over 40 also hate the devil's weed, with only 30 percent of that demographic in favor.
And oddly, while the poll shows a 2-to-1 opposition to the federal government's crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, and the poll declares it "strong support," there's actually growing discontent with the state's medical marijuana laws. The percentage of respondents "opposed" grew from 20 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in the most-recent poll.
But without a ballot initiative to vote on, this is all academic. As voters in Colorado and Washington showed in November, support for the country's 40-year experiment with making marijuana illegal -- folks tend to forget that it was legal, in their lifetimes, once already -- appears to be eroding. The way California works, however, it will require a mountain of cash -- the legal tender kind -- in order to change anything.