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Poll: Majority Support For Marijuana Legalization

A new Pew Research poll shows that a majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana:

A clear majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana for the first time in 40 years, according to a poll released Thursday.

In the Pew Research Center poll released Thursday, 52 percent support legalizing the drug and only 45 percent oppose legalization. While support has generally tracked upward over time, it has spiked 11 percentage points since 2010.

The first public poll on legalizing marijuana, taken by Gallup in 1969, found a whopping 84 percent of the country opposed.

In November 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado both decided to legalize marijuana, making those the first two states to do so. Three-fifths of Americans said the federal government shouldn’t enforce marijuana laws in those states. And 72 percent said the government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they’re worth.

Support for legal weed use has increased across age groups, genders, education levels, ideologies and ethnic backgrounds since 2010. The largest jumps have come from Hispanics, where support rose from 35 percent to 51 percent, and moderate or liberal Republicans, who increased support from 36 percent to 53 percent. Support is lower among older people, and among Republicans and conservatives.

This chart shows just how much public attitudes regarding marijuana have changed in my lifetime:

Pot Poll Chart

Much like public attitudes toward same-sex marriage, it seems rather apparent that we’re looking at the impact of generational change here. Baby Boomer’s and younger voters are the ones leading the forces of change here, and we see the impact of it in both the success of the initiatives in states like Colorado and Washington but the widespread acceptance in pretty much all parts of the country except the Deep South of the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Even there, though, the changes are taking place. Just as we’ve seen the nation move inexorably toward legalization of same-sex marriage, I think it’s fairly clear that we’re looking at a process that will lead to either complete legalization or at least decriminalization of marijuana in the near future.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    TPM had a great chart awhile back that compared support of equal rights to support of Mary Jane legalization. They were nearly identical. Unless te skies burn and rivers boil in Washington or Colorado over the next few years, it will only be a matter of time before its legal nationwide (although matter of time could still be decades)

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  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    TPM had a great chart awhile back that compared support of equal rights to support of Mary Jane legalization.

    Because, I’m guessing, as more gays came out of the closet and more people smoked weed, many people who were on the fence about the topics looked at the (harmless) results and compared what they saw against the predictions of imminent doom for America. The nation has not turned into a cross of Amsterdam and Sodom so perhaps, the undecideds decided, the reasons against gay marriage and marijuana are bunk.

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  3. stonetools says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    As I’ve said of marriage equality , a lot of old people in the South are going to have to die off first…. so yep, its decades.

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  4. Tyrell says:

    This issue should be decided by counties, cities, or towns. The federal government should not be telling people what to do concerning this.

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  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I actually laughed out loud at this graf:

    In the Pew Research Center poll released Thursday, 52 percent support legalizing the drug and only 45 percent oppose legalization. While support has generally tracked upward over time, it has spiked 11 percentage points since 2010.

    Really? An 11-point national spike? Since 2010? Not since 2000. 2010. Did the country get hit with a meteorite containing Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead records? But yet Washington State (way to the left) and Colorado (a socially libertarian state if there ever was one) only managed to pass their ’12 marijuana referendums by margins, respectively, of 55-45. And the very same day in Oregon (way to the left) a similar measure actually was defeated, 54-46, and in Montana that day (a socially libertarian state) legalized marijuana also was defeated, there by a margin of 57-43. Hmm. We know Pew has an agenda but that alleged 11-point national spike since 2010 is a bit ridiculous, no?

    In any event, not to beat a dead donkey, but what’s smokin’ funny about this sort of survey result, or putative survey result, is the left reflexively will agree with it, no questions asked, and then argue that states have both a right and a mandate to legalize marijuana (and to enact strict local gun control measures, for good measure) and then literally in the next breath the left will argue that states do not have rights to ban same-sex marriages or to enact restrictions on abortions. It’s the weather vane approach to political thought processes.

    Regarding marijuana, it’s a no brainer to legalize it. It should be legalized. The Feds should not be involved with it. But, yes, Virginia, the same holds true for state control — yea or nay, per local elected officials enacting legislation or direct voter plebiscites — over the following issues too: abortion, assisted suicide, same-sex marriages, contraception. Federalism should not be a fair weather game. People do retain the ability to vote with their feet.

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  6. mantis says:

    @Tyrell:

    The federal government should not be telling people what to do concerning this.

    Are you against the federal government statutory regulation of narcotics such as the Controlled Substances Act and related? Do you think interstate transportation of methamphetamines should be a crime?

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  7. mantis says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    I see Russia’s most inept monarch is here to unskew the polls for us.

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