Majority Supports Marijuana Legalization

Gallup MarijuanaAccording 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:

Gallup Marijuana 2


As are people over the age of 65:

Gallup Marijuana Age

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.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave D says:

    Will the prison industrial complex or the warrior cops buying tanks with federal drug money keep lobbying hard in Washington against such a thing? My guess is yes. And until the feds leave it alone and the DOJ stops busting people we will just continue the trend.

  2. john personna says:

    What are they smokin’?

    (I think that question might soon have a sell-by date.)

  3. al-Ameda says:

    I think we’d all be better off if Ted Cruz smoked weed.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Sooner or later everyone comes around to my way of thinking.
    It is pointless to resist.

  5. Pinky says:

    And remember, kids, stay in school! You can’t expect to sit around all day smoking pot and playing video games and have someone bring you free food, housing, money, and health care. (Note: if you do sit around all day smoking pot and playing video games, we promise you we’ll bring you free food, housing, money, and health care.)

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @ Pinky…
    Of course someone who smokes everyday and is in the 96th percentile of income would render your comment nonsense.
    But you are used to that.

  7. george says:


    And remember, kids, stay in school! You can’t expect to sit around all day smoking pot and playing video games and have someone bring you free food, housing, money, and health care. (Note: if you do sit around all day smoking pot and playing video games, we promise you we’ll bring you free food, housing, money, and health care.)

    So how’s that different than sitting around all day drinking beer and playing video games?

    It’s odd that the Republicans, the party that advertises itself as not wanting the government to be involved in people’s lives, that wants the government to be involved in deciding whether people can smoke pot. So much for small government.

  8. michael reynolds says:


    You need to explain that to Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, James Franco and easily half the money-making creatives in this country.

  9. john personna says:


    Pretty good troll, but don’t you miss the days when it was about “malt liqueur” or “Thunderbird?”

    Related: Mexico City Leaders Aim to Fight Cartel Violence By Legalizing Pot

  10. superdestroyer says:

    I guess as workforce participation levels drop, people will have to find something to do.

  11. john personna says:

    Wow, “we’ve established the morality, now we are negotiating price” edition:

    Uruguay to sell legal marijuana for $1 a gram

  12. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: Considering that Rogen and Hill don’t do anything more creative than acting stoned on camera, they’re hardly the best examples. I haven’t seen Franco in enough things to comment, although I guess you could say that his performance in Spiderman was creative, as I’ve never seen another person do whatever it was that he was doing. Anyway, based on my exposure, the stereotype of the creative stoner doesn’t hold up.

  13. Pinky says:

    @george: Sure, you’ll find more libertarian-minded conservatives who have no problem with marijuana legalization. But they don’t want to subsidize the lifestyle of the user, so that wasn’t really what I was addressing.

  14. mantis says:


    Anyway, based on my exposure

    Get out more. You are obviously living a narrow, ignorant life.

  15. michael reynolds says:


    Rogan writes and directs his own movies. He’s made many, many millions of dollars. I’m not surprised you don’t understand creative work.

  16. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Rogan writes and directs his own movies.

    12 writer credits, 2 director credits, and 13 producer credits on IMDB. But nope, he only acts stoned for a living. Obviously anyone can do that…..

  17. walt moffett says:

    Now to see how this plays out in next year’s local and Congressional races. Most likely will hear a 21st century if-by-whiskey speech or three, a few deer-in-headlight moments and so on.

    With the recent uptick in heroin use, expect the cartels have moved onto the next thing. Then there’s always the lucrative cigarette trade.

  18. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Watch Rogan in the first episode of “Freaks & Geeks” – possibly the most dead on characterization of a teenager I have ever seen an actor do. (and yes, he was playing a stoner)

    But then all this guy has done is become very successful in a tough, tough racket, entertained millions of people, and gotten rich in the process. You are right to have contempt for him. No doubt your accomplishments far exceed his.

  19. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky


    Also got his start playing a stoner on Freaks & Geeks. Went on to become a highly successful actor, winning a Golden Globe. Got a degree from UCLA while continuing to pursue his acting career. Has also holds an MFA from Columbia, and is a PhD candidate at Yale. Oh, and he teaches at NYU. And produces, and directs. He also finds time to do charity work.

    You should probably just avoid talking about anything that involves creative work.

  20. James Pearce says:


    Anyway, based on my exposure, the stereotype of the creative stoner doesn’t hold up.

    So weed makes you lazy…..

    Is that why we’re arresting people for smoking it?

    And here, Pinky, is the ultimate issue. You can giggle at all the pot smoker stereotypes you learned from 30 year old Cheech and Chong movies…….but you still need to come up with a good reason why it should remain illegal.

    And slagging on video games? In an age when the video game industry is pumping out hundreds of billions of dollars? If you were wearing a sign, it would say “I just don’t get it.”

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce: If you were wearing a sign, it would say “I just don’t get it.” “Kick Me”

  22. Rob in CT says:

    Pinky’s whine isn’t about legal weed, really. He’s whining about paying for safety net programs which, in his mind, will be utilized even more heavily because those people will smoke more pot and leech off him. [of course this is foolish, as pot is widely used now, PLUS we are engaged in a doomed “war” trying to stop it, which costs him money]

    He’d much prefer to see The Lord (God or the Free Market, whichever) SMITE the undeserving poor. That way, he could more properly bask in the glow of his virtue.


  23. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    Pinky seems fond neither of artists nor weed. I will smoke to that as I cash another residual check.

  24. Pinky says:

    @Rob in CT: Ah, Rob, once again you tell me what I’m really thinking. This time you’re a lot closer. j/k. You’re completely wrong. But keep trying; I’m sure you’ll get it one day. j/k. You probably won’t.

  25. george says:


    What were you addressing then? My take on it was that you wanted the state to decide what people could or could not put into their bodies. Its quite possible that I misinterpreted what you meant, but if not that, its not apparent to me what point you were making.

  26. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I suspect “This is the End” would have been better with a little less pot.

  27. john personna says:

    Per links above in the US, Mexico, Uruguay, there seems to be a growing consensus that fighting marijuana (1) wastes government resources, and (2) empowers criminal gangs.