Majority Supports Marijuana Legalization
According to a new Gallup poll, we’ve reached a milestone of sorts in that a majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For marijuana advocates, the last 12 months have been a period of unprecedented success as Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana. And now for the first time, a clear majority of Americans (58%) say the drug should be legalized. This is in
Public support for legalization more than doubled in the 1970s, growing to 28%. It then plateaued during the 1980s and 1990s before inching steadily higher since 2000, reaching 50% in 2011.
A sizable percentage of Americans (38%) this year admitted to having tried the drug, which may be a contributing factor to greater acceptance.
Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans’ tolerance for marijuana legalization. Support for legalization has jumped 10 percentage points since last November and the legal momentum shows no sign of abating. Last week, California’s second-highest elected official, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said that pot should be legal in the Golden State, and advocates of legalization are poised to introduce a statewide referendum in 2014 to legalize the drug.
The movement to legalize marijuana mirrors the relatively recent success of the movement to legalize gay marriage, which voters have also approved now in 14 states. Public support for gay marriage, which Americans also overwhelmingly opposed in the past, has increased dramatically, reaching majority support in the last two years.
Another similarity with the same-sex marriage debate is the fact that Republicans are the one partisan group that is dragging its feet:
As are people over the age of 65:
As with same-sex marriage, this appears to be a cultural shift rather than a temporary change in opinion that is likely to reverse itself in the future. Instead, I would expect support for legalization to increase as time goes on and for changes to the law like those we’ve seen in Colorado, Washington, and California to become more and more of the rule rather than the exception. On the whole, that strikes me as a good thing.