• Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • 52% of Americans Favor Legalization of Marijuana

    Neill Franklin: While 45 percent of Americans oppose legal marijuana, 70 percent think enforcing federal drug laws is a waste of money -   April 28, 2013
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

    I support this network as contributors are allowed the time to develop their arguments - CM
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


    52% of Americans Favor Legalization of MarijuanaPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

    A recent research study by the Pew Center found that 52 percent of Americans now favor the legalization of marijuana; 45 percent are against. But there's another number that kind of contradicts a little bit of that 45 percent number, 'cause apparently over 70 percent of Americans think that federal money spent to go after people with marijuana is money not well spent. Recently in Maryland, the legislature passed a bill that will allow a for a modest amount of experimentation witnh medical marijuana. And, of course, other states in the country have gone much further.

    Now joining us to talk about the whole marijuana debate and where we're at with the issue of legalization or decriminalization is Neill Franklin. He's the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, otherwise known as LEAP. He's a 33-year-old police veteran who's led multijurisdictional antinarcotics task forces for the Maryland state police and ran training centers for the Baltimore Police Department and the Maryland State Police.

    Thanks very much for joining us, Neill.

    NEILL FRANKLIN, EXEC. DIRECTOR, LEAP: Thanks for having me, Paul.

    JAY: So what do you make of that? Seventy, 72 percent of people think it's a waste of money, enforcing drug laws, yet 45 percent of people want it to be illegal.

    FRANKLIN: I'm not surprised at the results. This trend has been moving in this direction for some time now. If you go back just a couple of decades, those numbers were significantly lower. And so the polls are moving in our favor, to end the madness of marijuana prohibition.

    JAY: And you say "in our favor" because LEAP is actually for legalization and not just decriminalization.

    FRANKLIN: Absolutely. We're for ending prohibition, the legalization, regulation, and control of marijuana.

    JAY: So just for people that don't know, LEAP has about 2,500 members, mostly retired police, but also some active-duty cops and people that run prisons and former prosecutors and such.

    But, Neill, let's start with what happened in Maryland recently, where the legislature passed, as I said, a pretty modest bill.

    FRANKLIN: It's about time that we've got something passed for medical marijuana here in the state of Maryland. And I like to use the term cannabis, because that's the original term for this product, for this leafy matter. It's the term that our founding forefathers used when they were growing cannabis in this country. And, actually, that's where the term homespun comes from--just a bit of information there.

    But I think it's good. I think we're finally moving in the right direction. I hoped that it could have been more. There was also a measure--I think it was sponsored by Delegate Curt Anderson--it had a few cosponsors--for the regulation and control, the legalization of marijuana. I mean, that's what I would ultimately like to see. But if that didn't pass, then I'm very much happy with moving forward with medical marijuana.

    JAY: So it seems that a lot of the opposition to this bill in the legislature really wasn't people that think marijuana should be illegal, but it was more about they're worried about the feds are going to come in and overrule or fight with Maryland about this, and they don't want to get into that with the feds, so they'd rather do nothing.

    FRANKLIN: Yeah. I think it's something that needs to be recognized here is that, number one, we just had the legalization of marijuana in Washington State and Colorado, and this administration, the feds, have not taken any action regarding it. And I think there's a good reason for that. They want to give the states the opportunity to see if what they've done, what the citizens have decided to do, if it's going to actually work or not.

    I have no doubt in my mind that it's going to work, 'cause as a matter of fact it's already worked. Just the absence of the arrests for hundreds, maybe close to 1,000 or so, people for marijuana possession between those two states is quite significant.

    JAY: And the feds have not done or said anything about the fact that these states are not enforcing the federal drug laws.

    FRANKLIN: Absolutely. Let's use some common sense here. I for one cannot envision the federal government going after state employees for following a law that the state's citizens want. It makes no sense to me.

    JAY: But haven't there been some prosecutions in California, federal prosecutions of medical marijuana places?

    FRANKLIN: Yeah, and that hasn't been--that didn't involve government employees. Yes, the federal government was wasting resources going after medical marijuana dispensaries in California and in states like Montana. It makes no sense to me. But it didn't involve federal employees. I think many of those dispensaries may not have been following state law. There might have been a couple that had been following state law. But, you know, it didn't involve state employees.

    JAY: So just what kind of arguments are you hearing against legalization of medical marijuana or legalization of marijuana? I mean, in California, everybody knows, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, it's not so hard to get a prescription for medical marijuana. And it is a step towards legalization, and it seems most people are in favor of it. So what's the argument against it?

    FRANKLIN: Well, you know, there's always the argument, what kind of message are we sending to our children. You know. And I ask people to look at the message we currently send regarding tobacco and alcohol. Over the past couple of decades, we've cut tobacco use almost in half. We're not sending anyone to prison. We're not shooting each other in our streets, having--running gun battles and drive-by shootings. We can send the very same message, actually a better message to our children about the use of marijuana.

    But more important than the message is the system that is responsible for the violent crime that we have and responsible for more marijuana being made available for our children, because our current system of prohibition puts many, many, many violent drug dealers on our corners. You know what? And they hire children to sell to children. Our liquor store owners, who have that valuable license hanging on the wall, they don't hire children to peddle booze. And we can also control the number of those licenses that are handed out.

    So knowing that prohibition creates a more dangerous environment for our children, creates more access to marijuana to our children, and marijuana that may not be free of contaminants, knowing this, how can you support a system of prohibition? I only know one group that really would, and that's the cartel.

    JAY: So I understand now that the drug cartels want to keep marijuana illegally. They have lots to gain. But what are you hearing from the White House? You know, the logic seems to favor legalization. Public opinion seems to favor legalization. So what's the White House saying?

    FRANKLIN: Those numbers that you gave, 52 percent with--you know, according to Pew in favor of marijuana legalization, believe it or not that number's higher in the halls of Congress and the Senate. It's just that they're still not comfortable enough to--or maybe they just don't have the courage. Let me get rid of that word comfort. They don't have the courage [snip]

    JAY: What are they afraid of?

    FRANKLIN: Unfortunately, they still believe that their constituents won't vote for them the next time around. But that's not true. We're putting people in office who flat out make the case for ending prohibition. And some are getting into office. And it's not just about marijuana. They want to end prohibition for all drugs like we do.

    JAY: So give your picture of what that looks like.

    FRANKLIN: Of course, this is my picture, because the organization doesn't have a picture, because there are so many variables here and there are so many possible models. But for me, a quick look at marijuana. We already have a policy, we already have a model in place, and that's alcohol. Even though alcohol is far more dangerous than marijuana, even though cigarettes are far more dangerous than marijuana, we can still use the alcohol or tobacco model for marijuana.

    Let's look at heroin. And I say heroin because Baltimore has been what I consider--that's been their drug of choice here in Baltimore for many, many years. And there's many reasons for that.

    But in Switzerland they have heroin maintenance clinics. So what does that mean? It means those who are addicted, under a health model, can go to a clinic, receive pharmaceutical-grade heroin. You know the purity, you know that it's not contaminated with anything that it shouldn't be. They get to--the patients get to administer their heroin under medical supervision. They have zero overdose deaths. No one dies in that environment. And then, when they're ready, there's on-demand treatment. And those people who are in the system, you know what? They can work. They can pay taxes. They no longer have to steal. And there's less crime. That's where we can begin.

    JAY: So how much do you think this reluctance at the federal level, at state level is actually driven by some people call the prison-industrial complex? There's a lot of people in jail because of marijuana, and not just for trafficking--a lot of people for possession. And, you know, prisons might not be doing such a rip-roaring business if you get your way.

    FRANKLIN: You know, people will tell you that we don't send people to prison anymore for marijuana possession, but that's not true. Well, first of all, we arrest somewhere between 700,000 and 750,000 people every year across this country just for marijuana possession alone, and that's costing the taxpayers a lot of money.

    You know, unfortunately, when this whole business of drug prohibition started--because, remember, drugs used to be legal, all of them used to be legal. But when it started, we--and I'm just going back four decades under Richard Nixon, the massive war on drugs--we had about half a million people in prison, and today it's about 2.3 million people in prison. And, you know, when it started, the criminals were the ones making the money.

    Unfortunately, today, because we've stayed with this system for so long, everyone's making money. The police are making money. The prison industry's making money, prison privatization, big dollars, New York Stock Exchange, heavy lobbying going on. Pharmaceutical company sure doesn't want to see this change. And there are so many other vested interests in keeping things the way they are, the status quo--too much money being made on both sides of the fence.

    JAY: Thanks for joining us, Neill.

    FRANKLIN: Thank you, Paul.

    JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    And don't forget we're in our spring fundraising campaign. We have a $50,000 matching grant. So every $1 you donate will get matched. We've only got till May 2 to do this. So we're hoping right now, like, at the end of this video, you'll say, oh, The Real News is doing good work; I meant to donate, and I do it now or I'm going to forget about it. So yeah. So click now.

    Thanks for joining us on The Real News Network.


    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at


    Latest Stories

    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    Canada Shifts to Right Under Harper, Mimicking the United States
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7), Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting