New poll shows American's split on legal marijuana
It's been two weeks since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana - sparking a national discussion over the merits and drawbacks of the drug.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post Poll, American's are split on whether pot should be available to everyone.
49% of those polled support legalizing a small amount.
The poll also shows age and party affiliation make a big difference on how people feel.
Older Americans, 65 and up, are more likely to oppose legalization.
As for politics, 57% of democrats support legalization, compared to 37% of republicans.
As more states relax their rules on marijuana, the once-taboo subject is taking the national stage.
But here in Sioux Falls, people who agree with legalization are afraid to go on camera.
And some who oppose the idea say making it available to the masses will increase instances of drug abuse.
"Easier access I guess, yeah it's safer people don't have to go down all these different avenues to get it, but it also just makes it easier."
Darcy Jensen with Prairie View Prevention Services agrees and said it is bad for the community.
"The ripple impact can be much more significant and for me personally, and working in the field of addiction, I don't see a good reason to legalize marijuana."
She adds the younger a is person when they start using pot, the adverse effects tend to be greater down the road.
"We do know that the beginning use of a drug, such as marijuana, often leads to a much more downward trajectory of their life because of the addiction issues." Jensen added.
But local activist, turned Sioux Falls City Council Candidate, Emmett Reistroffer, said it all comes down to public information. "We cannot arrest our way to a solution on the drug problem. The answer lies in education and prevention. When we put handcuffs on someone we're reacting to the matter after it happens and the cycle just keeps going and going, people keep using drugs and they struggle with addiction."
"This issue is about resources. Lets focus on treatment, the healthcare aspect of it. Helping people who need it, instead of just punishing people whoever we can catch who happens to have drugs on them." He added.
23 states - including Minnesota and Nebraska, have partially decriminalized possession or legalized medical marijuana.
And while many still oppose use of pot, one thing is for sure, the ABC poll shows American's views on the drug are changing.
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