A whopping 91 percent of Americans believe that marijuana prohibition should end and cannabis should be legal for either medical or recreational purposes, according to a new Pew Research Center poll released on Friday.
The survey comes shortly after three additional states—New York, Virginia and New Mexico—enacted adult-use legalization. It asked adults to pick between three options: marijuana should be legal for medical use only, it should be legal both recreationally and medically or it should continue to be illegal.
Sixty percent of respondents said that cannabis should be legal for both medical and adult use. Thirty-one percent said it should be legalized for therapeutic purposes only. And just eight percent of Americans said it should continue to be criminalized across the board.
NEW: As more states continue to legalize marijuana, an overwhelming share of U.S. adults (91%) say either that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use (60%) or that it should be legal for medical use only (31%). https://t.co/inaE5EU09t pic.twitter.com/MBsmCZmkfY
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) April 16, 2021
A majority of those in every age, race and political demographic included in the poll said they feel marijuana should be legal in some form. Democrats and people who lean in the party’s direction were most likely to favor the policy change for both medical and adult use (72 percent), compared to 47 percent of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP.
Support was lowest for the broad reform among people aged 75 and older, while majorities of those aged 18-74 back the dual legalization proposal.
“While both Republicans and Democrats differ greatly on whether marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, there are also age divides within each party,” Pew said. “A 63% majority of Republicans ages 18 to 29 favor making marijuana legal for recreational and medical use, compared with 53% of those ages 30 to 49 and 48% of those 50 to 64. However, only about a quarter of Republicans 65 and older (27%) say marijuana should be legal for both.”
— Pew Research Fact Tank (@FactTank) April 17, 2021
This survey was released one day after Quinnipiac University published its own poll finding that national support for marijuana legalization has hit a high point, with 69 percent of Americans now saying that they favor ending prohibition. That included a strong majority of Republicans (62 percent), too.
While state and federal lawmakers seem to be increasingly recognizing this bipartisan shift in public opinion and crafting legislation to reflect that, it’s still the case that President Joe Biden is among the minority who still opposes adult-use legalization.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last month that Biden’s position on the issue “has not changed,” meaning he still opposes the reform. He hasn’t said whether he would sign or veto a bill to enact the policy change if it arrived on his desk, however.
The president instead backs modestly rescheduling the plant, decriminalizing possession, legalizing medical cannabis, expunging prior marijuana records and letting states set their own policies.
But his stance could be tested in the coming weeks or months, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has emphasized that a federal legalization bill will released “shortly” and sent to the Senate floor “soon.”
On the House side, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said recently that he plans to reintroduced his legalization bill, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which cleared the chamber last year but did not advance in the Senate under GOP control.
The new Pew survey involved interviews with 5,109 U.S. adults, conducted in early April, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.