Chronic City: 77 Percent Of L.A. Residents Favor Dispensaries; Majority of West Coasters Want To Legalize Pot

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley may have believed he was safely playing to the grandstands when he promised to shut down all of L.A.'s estimated 800 to 1,000 medical Marijuana dispensaries, magnanimously declaring that "approximately zero" of the dispensaries were operating legally in exchanging weed for cash. But perhaps Cooley should check his numbers: In a new poll taken this week and released today, the reaction of Los Angelenos sounds more like a chorus of boos and hisses.

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Photo by Coaster 420, Wikimedia Commons
Dear Weed: We love you, and we don't want you to go away. Signed, California
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More than three-quarters of the voters (77 percent ) in Los Angeles County want to see medical Marijuana dispensaries regulated, rather than prosecuted and forced to close, according to the poll, funded by a pro-pot advocacy group and completed Monday and Tuesday. The poll also found that 74 percent support the California's medical Marijuana law, while 54 percent want to see Marijuana completely legalized, regulated and taxed.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a national organization that supports Marijuana legalization, commissioned the poll by independent firm Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, after Cooley threatened every dispensary operator in the county with arrest and prosecution. Cooley, along with newly elected L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, claim that the dispensaries are selling Marijuana for profit in violation of state law.

The attempts by anti-pot zealots to paint the dispensaries as unpopular and the medical Marijuana law as out of control simply aren't based in the facts, according to the new poll. "I think the take-home message here is voters in L.A. County overwhelmingly support the state's medical Marijuana law," MPP spokesman Bruce Mirken told the Los Angeles Times. "They think dispensaries, properly regulated, can be a part of that, and Mr. Cooley's really out of step."

The Los Angeles City Council is on the verge of passing a law which would ban sales of Marijuana in L.A. Dispensary operators say pot stores technically do not sell the herb, but collect donations to recoup their costs, in accordance with California Attorney General Jerry Brown's published guidelines (PDF). Dispensary owners fear the new ordinance will be used against them, and Cooley's heavily publicized anti-pot hot-dogging has certainly done nothing to quell their concerns.

Gallup Poll Shows West Coast Majority Backs Legalization

A separate poll, released Saturday by respected national polling firm Gallup, finds a majority, 53 percent, of Americans on the West Coast favor legalization of Marijuana. Support falls to 44 percent nationally, but is at a record level and has grown throughout the past decade, according to Gallup.

The poll numbers could bode well for Marijuana legalization advocates in California, where the issue could be on the 2010 ballot.

According to the polling service, which has been posing the Marijuana legalization question to likely voters since 1970, national support for legalization is on a roll. Last time Gallup asked the question, in 2005, only 36 percent of Americans nationwide said they backed legalization.

Gallup's results echo and underline those of separate national polls conducted this year by Zogby, ABC News, CBS News, Rasmussen Reports, and the California Field Poll -- all of which reported record support for Marijuana legalization.

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