While opinions only moved one percent this year compared to 2017’s numbers, at least it was in the right direction. Today, the Pew Research Center released the results of their newest study, which found that 62 percent of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana. Pew noted that while it was a small change, it represents double the support marijuana legalization had at the turn of the millennium, when it was trending around 31 percent.
The data also found that cannabis legalization continues to be a divisive issue across generations. Millennials were found to show the strongest support, with 74 percent in favor of ending marijuana prohibition. The Gen X crowd was a bit behind at 63 percent and Baby Boomers were almost split down the middle with 54 percent in favor.
The least supportive group was the Silent Generation at only 39 percent — its youngest members turn 73 this year. However, Pew noted they did become more supportive over the last year.
62% of Americans say the use of marijuana should be legalized, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade https://t.co/ujjXJSTFLT
— Pew Research Fact Tank (@FactTank) October 8, 2018
Another variable for guessing if someone supported legalization this year was their political leanings, but it was tricky on the right side of the aisle. This year, Republicans were split, 45 percent in favor and 51 percent opposed. But as seen with the recent medical marijuana movement in Utah, many conservatives are coming around to support cannabis legalization. Three years ago, only 39 percent of Republicans favored legalization.
Otherwise, if you weren’t a Republican, it was a pretty solid bet you were in favor of legalization. Nearly seven in 10 Democrats are in favor of legalization these days, and the 75 percent of Independents that lean to the left mirror those numbers. Nevertheless, 28 percent of Democrats still believe adult-use marijuana should be illegal.
When it came to education, the people most likely to support legalization were college dropouts, coming in at 67 percent. The number dipped a pinch to few points when it came to folks that actually walked across the stage or got a postgraduate degree, but both are still over 60 percent. While those with a high school diploma or less did favor legalization, nearly four in ten believed it should remain criminal.
Along religious lines, there was a notable split between Protestants. Mainliners showed the strongest support for legalization of any faith group at 64 percent. Evangelicals were the least favorable and the only group that outright believes cannabis should remain illegal besides Republicans, with 52 percent in favor of the status quo or even heavier enforcement. Catholics fell in between the two Protestant wings, with 52 percent in favor of legalization.
And people who are unaffiliated with any particular faith group showed the strongest support with nearly eight in 10 supporting legalization.
According to the nation’s leading cannabis reform organizations, the numbers are a sign that Americans support what they’ve seen over the last few years in the development of the legal market.
“The fact that support continues to grow as states have been ending marijuana prohibition over the past few years suggests Americans are comfortable with the changes that are taking place,” Marijuana Policy Project Spokesman Mason Tvert told Cannabis Now.
Tvert thinks it’s pretty clear folks are seeing the benefit of the regulated market compared to the old way of doing things.
“They see cannabis being sold legally in regulated businesses and they recognize it is a much more preferable system,” he said. “The idea of arresting and punishing adults for consuming marijuana is becoming increasingly unpopular, and elected officials are taking notice.”
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano offered similar insight on the new numbers.
“One of the greatest benchmarks of the success of legalization is the simple fact that public support for this policy change has only grown in the years since states began enacting it,” Armentano said. “The public has spoken and it is time for leaders in both parties to come together and amend federal law in a manner that comports with marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural and legal status.”
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