A record number of Americans now support cannabis legalization efforts across the U.S., according to a new poll released by Gallup on Wednesday.
According to Gallup’s new data, 64 percent of Americans now support the legalization of adults recreationally using marijuana. Things have been trending upwards since Gallup recorded a slight dip in legalization support following 2012’s winning legalization ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon — but support didn’t drop below 50 percent at the time.
Gallup has been polling Americans on the subject of marijuana for nearly half a century, with their first numbers on the subject dating back to 1969, when only 12 percent of people supported the idea. Ten years later support peaked at 28 percent, but faded through the prime years of Reagan’s drug war. By the time California passed Proposition 215 in 1996, we were back up to a quarter of Americans supporting the idea. Since the 2013 survey, a majority of Americans have supported legalization.
One of the biggest takeaways from this year’s survey is that a majority of Republicans now support the issue, at 51 percent. Republican support jumped a whopping 9 percent from last year, meaning basically one in 10 Republicans changed their view on marijuana in the last year. A majority of Democrats began favoring the issue consistently in 2009, with independents following in 2010.
“These new numbers, and the continuing trend they confirm, show that legal marijuana continues to be way more popular than almost any politician — increasingly so,” said Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell in a statement on the new numbers.
Angell says despite threatening rhetoric from some Trump administration officials, Americans’ support for regulating marijuana like alcohol only continues to rise year over year. He said that this bodes well for efforts to pass cannabis laws in more states in 2018 — both on the ballot and through state legislatures.
“Nearly two out of three Americans now say that marijuana should be legalized, and it would be politically disastrous for the Trump administration to allow Jeff Sessions to break the president’s campaign pledges to respect state laws,” said Angell.
Marijuana Policy Project Director of Communications Morgan Fox wasn’t surprised by the new findings, as he believes Americans have been worn down by the war on pot.
“It makes sense that support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing,” Fox said.
“Americans are tired of wasting resources arresting hundreds of thousands of individuals every year for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”
Fox believes that in the five years since the first states made marijuana legal for adults, it has become increasingly clear that — unlike prohibition — regulation works. “Adult-use marijuana laws create jobs, generate tax revenue and protect consumers while taking the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals,” Fox said.
Fox added that it is crucial that the federal government grant states the freedom to serve as laboratories of democracy. “We urge the Department of Justice in particular to continue its policy of not interfering in states with well-regulated adult-use and medical marijuana programs while lawmakers catch up to the will of the people,” he said.
The new chief at one of the world’s leading drug policy reform organizations also weighed in on the numbers and the feds.
“Marijuana legalization is far more popular than Jeff Sessions or Donald Trump and will survive them both,” said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Instead of wasting limited law enforcement resources trying to stop successful state-level legalization initiatives, U.S. officials should listen to the clear, bipartisan message the public is sending them, and support federal marijuana reform as well.”
McFarland Sánchez-Moreno continued, in a statement, to point out that Americans are beyond the question of whether we want to legalize cannabis.
“The question is no longer whether we should legalize marijuana, but rather how we should do it,” added McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, citing Senator Cory Booker’s efforts. “The Marijuana Justice Act would legalize marijuana the right way, by not only stopping the ongoing harms of prohibition, but also beginning to address the devastation that marijuana prohibition has wrought, particularly among communities of color.”
Gallup noted when releasing the data that Americans views on same-sex marriage have been similar over time. Both issues saw about a quarter of Americans supporting them in the 1990s and both came in at 64 percent support this year. Gallup says they’ve found Americans becoming more liberal on a variety of social issues.
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