A solid majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana and expunging the records of individuals with prior convictions for cannabis possession or consumption, according to a new poll.
Quinnipiac University’s latest national survey, which was released on Wednesday, shows that 60 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for adult use, with 33 percent opposed. Even more respondents (63-29 percent) agreed that people should have their records cleared for low-level cannabis offenses.
And 93 percent said they support allowing medical marijuana.
When it comes to full recreational legalization, 73 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents are on board.
But while the issue is increasingly bipartisan, Republicans aren’t as bullish about adult-use legalization (40-52 percent) or expunging cannabis records (45-47 percent).
Among people between the ages of 18 and 34, a supermajority of 85 percent support legalization. The only age group that mostly opposes ending prohibition is those 65 or older, with only 44 percent of the demographic backing the policy.
“The baby boomers say no to the drug that helped define an era, while the millennials say bring it on,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said. “In between are enough voters to rubber stamp legalizing marijuana for recreation as well as medical reasons.”
Notably, support for cannabis legalization dropped three percentage points since the polling outfit last asked about the issue in April 2018, but those losses didn’t go toward the opposition, which stayed at the same percentage, and seemed to shift into the “don’t know” category. Support for medical marijuana didn’t change from last year.
The survey of 1,120 respondents offers the freshest data on American sentiment toward marijuana reform, support for which has rapidly grown over the past decade. Gallup released a poll last year that showed 66 percent of Americans favor legalization, including a majority of Republicans.
And that kind of information could be valuable as more candidates enter, or consider entering, the 2020 presidential race. Last week, five senators who have announced that they’re seeking the Democratic nomination joined together in filing wide-ranging legislation that would remove cannabis from the list of federally banned substances.
The new poll, and surveys before it, indicate that opposing legalization at this point would put Democratic candidates at risk of alienating a large portion of their party’s base.
“The message these numbers send is simple: when marijuana policy is rooted in justice for consumers and compassion for patients, lawmakers will be rewarded,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal told Marijuana Moment. “Further, that the American public writ large is ready to punish those who prolong the cruel policy of criminalization at the ballot box.”
Photo courtesy of Jurassic Blueberries.