Poll: 50% Favor Marijuana Legalization

So reports Gallup:

A record-high 50% of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 46% last year. Forty-six percent say marijuana use should remain illegal.

Here’s the graph of opinion over the last 40ish years:

1969-2011 Trend: Support for Making Use of Marijuana Legal


It has been clear of late that attitudes towards marijuana have been shifting, so perhaps this foreshadows a serious reassessment of our policies sometime in the next decade.

One thing is for certain:  current US drug war policy is not working (if by working one means achieving the goals of the policy).  As such, a shift in the public opinion that might actually open the door to an actual debate of these issues is a welcome development.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Rob in CT says:

    The WoD is pretty entrenched, though. My guess is that there needs to be sustained (~10 years?) well-over 50% (more like 2/3) support for legalization before we will see real change.

    I do think those numbers are coming. It is frustrating, though, to contemplate the WoD going strong for decades to come.

  2. JKB says:

    In this time of austerity, do you think the DEA and police departments will quietly give up their major funding source?

    Always be thinking, forfeiture

  3. WR says:

    Almost 70% bellieve we should raises taxes on incomes of a million dollars and over. In New York, something like 80% believe that the millionaire’s surtax shouldn’t be allowed to expire. Vast majorities want the elements of Obama’s job plan enacted. But nothing’s going to happen on any of this, because politicians have decided that what “those people” want doesn’t matter.

    So marijuana’s not going to be legalized. Not when there are rich and powerful people who can make money off the damage the laws cause.

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Legalizing pot is a no brainer. It’s the best thing in the world for AIDS patients and for various cancer patients. It’s an industrial product. It’s an easy and obvious source of revenue for cash strapped municipalities and counties. To top it off, if pot were legalized we could redirect vice squad resources to far more important law enforcement pursuits.

    It’s disconcerting the in favor number only is 50%. We’ll know we’ve turned a corner if and when that figure exceeds 75%. Hopefully that’ll happen sooner rather than later.

  5. Lomax says:

    I think that these surveys are probably asking people if they favor legalization for medical purposes. Most people I know are somewhat reticent about this issue. They just don’t think or care about it one way or the other. However, almost everyone I talk to is totally against smoking of any kind. I am not sure if there would be a difference in tobacco cigarettes and marijuana cigarettes when it comes to cancer producing ingredients. I also have not seen any studies concerning impaired while driving or operating heavy machinery.

  6. matt says:

    @Lomax: There are studies out there that show a much lower rate of lung cancer amongst Marijuana smokers. Scientists haven’t been able to figure out exactly why but some theories include that Marijuana kills the cells in your lungs before they have a chance to be cancerous. As for medical usage most people either use a vaporizer which has no burning material involved or via infusions of various types from your typical brownies to wines.

    There are studies that show moderate amounts of marijuana use does not result in a significantly increased risk of of being involved in an accident. There are prescription drugs out there already that are actually much MUCH more dangerous when it comes to operating machinery than even alcohol..