Strong Majority Of Americans Continues To Support Marijuana Legalization At Record High Level, New Gallup Poll Finds
Support for marijuana legalization continues to enjoy broad support from Americans, according to a new Gallup poll released on Thursday.
Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults said they back legalizing cannabis in this latest survey. That’s the same percentage that the firm reported for its last poll in November 2020, where support had reached its highest level since 1969. A year earlier, in 2019, Gallup found 66 percent support for the policy change.
Just 32 percent of Americans now oppose legalization, putting support at a more than two-to-one margin.
“As was the case in 2020, solid majorities of U.S. adults in all major subgroups by gender, age, income and education support legalizing marijuana,” Gallup said of the latest results. “Substantive differences are seen, however, by political party and religion.”
That said, the new poll shows majority backing for the policy change across all age and party demographics, though at differing levels of strength.
Support among Republicans increased slightly compared to last year, from 48 to 50 percent.
Meanwhile, 83 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents said they back legalization.
83% of U.S. Democrats and 50% of Republicans support the legalization of marijuana. https://t.co/31bxu5K9cR pic.twitter.com/EfP5sJ4cuZ
— GallupNews (@GallupNews) November 4, 2021
Gallup said legalization support saw “particularly sharp increases occurring in the 2000s and 2010s.” The consistent level of support in the most recent editions of the annual survey suggests a possible political stabilization of the issue, but does not necessarily indicate that the policy change’s popularity won’t continue to rise in the future.
“It’s too soon to say that support for legalizing marijuana has reached a ceiling,” Justin McCarthy, an analyst at Gallup, told Marijuana Moment. “We’ve recorded mostly small, incremental annual increases—and in some years, no increase at all—which, from a longer-term perspective, amass to a larger shift in public opinion on the issue over time. Future measures will give a clearer idea of where public opinion is heading.”
In 1969, the first year Gallup surveyed on the issue, just 12 percent of U.S. adults backed legalization. Support hit 50 percent in 2011 and 60 percent in 2016. Today, more than two in three Americans support the policy change.
Majorities of every demographic surveyed in the latest poll—with the exception of those who identify as ideologically conservative—said they favor legalization. That includes people 55 and older (60 percent) and those who attend religious services weekly (52 percent).
Among people between the ages of 18 and 34, legalization support is at 77 percent. Eighty-six percent of those who describe themselves as politically liberal are on board.
The survey involved phone interviews with 823 American adults from October 1-19, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
The release of the poll results comes as congressional lawmakers continue to pursue reform. A key House committee approved a legalization bill in September, and Senate leaders are also pushing a plan to end federal cannabis prohibition.
Yet, despite the solid public support for reform, particularly among Democrats, President Joe Biden continues to oppose adult-use legalization. Instead, he’s supportive of more modest proposals to federally decriminalize cannabis, legalize the plant for medical use and let states set their own policies.
While the president is personally against comprehensively ending prohibition, the Congressional Research Service released a report on Wednesday explaining steps he and his administration could take to repair the harms of cannabis criminalization.
Recent state and local polling has also continued to show the public backing broad marijuana reform.
For example, as multiple Pennsylvania lawmakers introduce bills to legalize cannabis, support for the reform is at a record high in the state, according to a new survey.
Marijuana legalization is more popular in Maryland than Biden and the state’s two U.S. senators, a poll released late last month found.
At the national level, Gallup released a survey in August showing that nearly half of American adults have tried cannabis.
Last year, the firm also published a survey finding 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.
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Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.