Nearly seven in 10 Americans now support legalizing marijuana nationwide, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday.
Overall, 68 percent of respondents said they favor legalizing cannabis for adult use, which is “Gallup’s highest reading” since the firm started polling voters on the issue, it said. Last year, the survey found 66 percent support for legalization.
In 1969, only 12 percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana. Today’s level of support is double what it was in 2000.
The new poll shows majority backing for the policy change across all age demographics for the first time. However, support among Republicans dipped slightly compared to last year, from 51 to 48 percent.
Meanwhile, 83 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents said they back legalization, which Gallup says is the highest level of support it has ever recorded for those political groups.
The release of the survey results comes one week after voters in five states approved initiatives to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes. That includes reform wins in traditionally conservative states such as Montana and South Dakota.
“Majorities of most demographic subgroups of Americans support legalizing marijuana, including by gender, age, education and household income,” Gallup, which conducted the survey of 1,035 adults from September 30 to October 15, said.
Despite the overwhelming support for the policy change among Democrats, President-elect Joe Biden has so far only backed more modest reforms such as decriminalizing possession and expunging prior cannabis convictions.
Meanwhile, it’s not clear why there was a small reduction in support from those who identify as Republican following years of increases. That said, Democratic lawmakers have increasingly attempted to own the issue, which could help explain why fewer conservatives are willing to openly back the policy.
There’s also a margin of error of +/- four percentage points in the survey, which could account for the small amount of movement reported among the political demographic.
“Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, there has been a slow trickle of states that have followed suit,” Gallup said. “Over that period, Americans’ support for marijuana legalization has risen 20 points to a record-high 68 percent.”
A record-high 68% of Americans support legalizing marijuana. https://t.co/8uI61YAxFU
— GallupNews (@GallupNews) November 9, 2020
The firm also referenced a separate survey it conducted earlier this year that showed that about 70 percent of Americans view smoking cannabis to be a morally acceptable activity. That’s higher than their views on the morality of issues such as gay relationships, medical testing of animals, the death penalty and abortion.
That said, the new poll found that Americans who more regularly attend religious services are less likely to support legalizing marijuana.
“The trajectory of the public’s support for the legalization of marijuana has coincided with an increasing number of states approving it,” Gallup said. “It is not entirely clear whether the shift in public opinion has caused the change in many state laws or vice versa. Given recent trends, more states are likely to legalize recreational marijuana in the future. Considering the high level of public support for such a measure, a change in federal policy could even occur.”
Lawmakers and advocates have similarly made the case that the 2020 election results for cannabis reform will bolster federal reform efforts, regardless of the political makeup of Congress or the presidency.
“This is what voters want. They’re not partisan issues, it’s an opportunity for Republicans to be able to make progress in their red states and bring people together at a time of division,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment on Thursday. “I think you’re going to watch people understand what just happened last night, and it is a continuation of progress that’s been going on since 1996. I think it’s going to be much easier [to pass reform] in the new Congress, with Republicans and Democrats, both in the House and Senate.”
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.