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Americans, whom Indian youth appear to idealise, want weed legalised

On World Weed Day, a section of the Indian media advocated legalisation emulating the Americans, lamenting 'how cannabis, the food of the gods, became illegal in India'

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According to a CBS News/YouGov survey, the result of which was published on 20 April, the World Weed Day, two-thirds of Americans want recreational marijuana use to be legal under federal law and in their own state. As more states move to legalise marijuana, the survey says most people say they wouldn’t mind if a licensed marijuana business opened in their neighbourhood.

However, not quite fortunately for the Americans, recreational marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level. The House of Representatives recently passed a bill to federally decriminalise marijuana.

Meanwhile, on the same day, a section of the Indian media began advocacy of such legalisation. Firstpost published an article by its collective staff titled “World Cannabis Day: How cannabis, the ‘food of the gods’, became illegal in India.” Saying the legal restrictions on weed in India militated against the tradition of Shiva and Hindu warriors, the piece advocated that Indians go in the direction of woke Americans.

Nearly all Americans who supported legalisation under state law in the CBS News survey also support it under federal law, and vice versa. Legal recreational marijuana, the survey shows, gets the same level of support whether the question is posed at the state level or federal level, suggesting the jurisdiction may not matter much to people.

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The legalisation of recreational pot use in more states, the survey result shows, has sparked the opening of more legal marijuana businesses, and most Americans wouldn’t mind this kind of business opening in their neighbourhood: most either would favour it or say it wouldn’t matter much to them.

Just about three in 10 would oppose the opening of a licensed recreational marijuana business in their area. Opposition is largely driven by those who are against making marijuana use legal in the first place.

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Marijuana users (37% of Americans say they use it) are more supportive of legalisation and of recreational marijuana businesses opening in their neighbourhoods, and support is even higher among those who use marijuana regularly, says the survey result.

Among those who say they never use marijuana, a slim majority of Americans favour legalisation, but they are comparatively less supportive than those who use it. People who don’t use the drug are less enthusiastic than those who do about the opening of licensed dispensaries in their neighbourhood, but most Americans would either favour it or say it wouldn’t matter much to them.

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Eighteen states of the US, plus the District of Columbia, now permit recreational use of marijuana.

Even among Americans who live in the states where recreational marijuana use is currently not legal, a majority say they want it to be legal, and they support legalisation under federal law too.

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As marijuana use has become legal in a number of states, says the survey result it remains illegal under federal law, making it difficult for licensed businesses selling marijuana to use the banking system.

Legalising marijuana at the federal level finds broad support across gender, levels, racial groups and age. However, younger Americans (who are more likely to use marijuana) remain more supportive of legal pot than older Americans, says the CBS News survey.

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Political and ideological leanings do shape views, the survey report says. Most Democrats, liberals, independents and moderates favour legalisation under federal law, but Republicans and conservatives are split on the issue. Age divides Republicans and conservatives, with those who are younger supporting legalisation and those who are older opposed, particularly Republicans and conservatives ages 65 and over.

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This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,612 US adult residents interviewed between 29 and 31 March. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and based on the US Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as the 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is ± 3.1 points.

Meanwhile, the Indian media house referred to above begins its weed advocacy by saying, “In India, it is believed that Lord Shiva had once wandered off into the fields after a debate with his family.”

In the article, Firstpost staff journalists recall that in the 1890s, the British found that Indians used cannabis extensively. “In response to this, they appointed the Indian Hemp Commission to look into the cultivation of the hemp plant, preparation of drugs from it, trade-in those drugs, the social and moral impact of its consumption, and possible prohibition.

“It carried out extensive studies and interviewed 1,193 people in 86 meetings arranged in 30 cities all under the supervision of W Hackworth Young, who was assisted by three European officials and ‘three native non-official gentlemen’,” the article reads.

Americans, whom Indian youth appear to idealise, want weed legalised [Internal image #6: a snapshot from the Firstpost website]

“It then recommended that the government continue the existing policy of taxation, but at higher rates to discourage its use, rather than an outright ban. They concluded that its use is very ancient, has some religious among Hindus, and is harmless in moderation. In fact, more harm was done by alcohol,” Firstpost says.

“Interestingly, two members of the commission, both Indians, had dissented with the report and said that the British should not tax hemp, but ban it outright,” says the piece.

“In the ‘1970s,” recalls the write-up, “cannabis continued to be legal in India and smoked by many.”

In 1978, says Firstpost, Bob Dylan, the famous and Nobel laureate, a then teen reached the shores of Goa. In his recollection of events, he says that there were three huts on a cliff by the sea, where he hung with sadhus smoking charas, and learning other typically “Indian” things.

“Interestingly, it was around this time that the Richard Nixon administration launched a ‘war on drugs’ and “in 1961, ‘single convention on narcotic drugs‘ was the first-ever international treaty to have clubbed cannabis with hard drugs and imposed a blanket ban on their production and except for medicinal and research purposes,” the Indian media house says.

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