Public Support For Cannabis Legalization Creeps Higher


Fully two-thirds of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana, according to data from a Gallup poll released on Monday. That figure is the highest level of support since Gallup first began polling about legalizing cannabis more than 50 years ago, although it is not a statistically significant increase from the 66% in favor of legalization recorded last year.

“Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, there has been a slow trickle of states that have followed suit,” Gallup wrote in a release announcing the results of the poll. “Over that period, Americans’ support for marijuana legalization has risen 20 points to a record-high 68%. This measure has enjoyed majority support from the public since 2013. Additionally, Gallup data from earlier this year find that 70% of U.S. adults now consider smoking marijuana to be morally acceptable, marking a five-percentage-point uptick in one year.”

The poll showed support from both women and men across a wide swath of demographic groups. A majority of respondents from all age groups, education levels, and household incomes favored legalization. The results also show strong if not majority support from all political ideologies and party affiliations, with a total of 83% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and 48% of Republicans saying they favored the legalization of marijuana.

“In national polls and at the ballot box, the American public has spoken loudly and clearly,” Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said in a press release. “The overwhelming majority of Americans favor ending the failed policies of marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a policy of legalization, regulation, taxation, and public education. Elected officials — at both the state and federal level — ought to be listening.”

Will The Legalization Trend Continue?

The poll was taken from September 30 to October 15, weeks before voters legalized cannabis for adults in four states in this month’s election. The timing of the survey suggests that support for legalization could be even higher the next time the poll is taken if current trends continue.

“The trajectory of the public’s support for the legalization of marijuana has coincided with an increasing number of states approving it. It is not entirely clear whether the shift in public opinion has caused the change in many state laws or vice versa,” Gallup wrote. “Given recent trends, more states are likely to legalize recreational marijuana in the future. Considering the high level of public support for such a measure, a change in federal policy could even occur.”

Noting that no state that has legalized cannabis has later reversed the decision, Altieri of NORML predicted that the tide of legalization would continue to wash over the nation.

“There is no buyer’s remorse on the part of the American people. In the era of state-level legalization, voters’ support for this issue has grown rapidly — an indication that these policy changes have been successful and are comporting with voters’ desires and expectations,” Altieri said. “Today, voters of every age and in virtually every region of the country agree that marijuana should be legal. We have a mandate from the American people and we intend to make sure that elected officials abide by it.”



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