52 percent urge full legalization; 72 percent say prohibitions “cost more than they’re worth”
A Pew Research poll released this week has registered the highest-ever support for cannabis legalization, with a solid majority (52 percent to 45 percent) favoring the end of the drug’s 75-year prohibition in the U.S. The recent numbers represent a dramatic shift in public opinion since the first Gallup poll on the question (1969), when a full 84 percent percent of Americans disfavored legalization.
How times have changed. Today, support for legalization is significantly higher among Republicans (37 percent) than among the general population a decade ago (32 percent). Both Democrats and Independents now favor legalization by strong majorities (59 and 60 percent, respectively). Perhaps most significantly, a full 72 percent of Americans now believe that, regardless of whether pot should be banned in principle, attempts at enforcing prohibition cost more than they deliver in value to society.
The historic milestone has been driven by several factors. For one, a full 48 percent of respondents reported having tried cannabis in the past, the highest percentage ever reported in the poll. The percentage of Americans who believe cannabis to be a gateway drug has also dramatically dropped, from strong majorities in the late seventies to only 38 percent today. And while 50 percent believed cannabis use to be morally wrong just seven years ago, only 32 percent believe so now, with a full 50 percent of Americans denying that it is a moral issue at all. But perhaps the most dramatic driver of the public opinion shift is the growing traction of the medical marijuana movement: 77 percent of respondents now believe that cannabis has legitimate medical uses, while a mere 16 percent still deny it.
As it turns out, the only facet of the cannabis issue which still garners significant opposition is the question of smoking in public: 51 percent report that they would feel uncomfortable if they were situated next to a cannabis user in the process of toking up. Members of the community are hereby advised to mind their manners.
Full survey results here.