Support for marijuana legalization increased again over the past year, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.
In the poll of about 1,750 people administered in late September, 62 percent of Americans said they agreed that cannabis should be legal. That’s a one point bump since the last time the center polled on marijuana, roughly a year ago in October 2017.
62% of Americans say the use of marijuana should be legalized, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade https://t.co/ujjXJSTFLT
— Pew Research Fact Tank (@FactTank) October 8, 2018
And, opposition continued to decline at an even greater rate than support increased. Only 34 percent said that marijuana should remain illegal, compared to 37 percent who said the same last year.
“One of the greatest benchmarks of the success of legalization is the simple fact that public support for this policy change has only grown in the years since states began enacting it,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano told Marijuana Moment in an email. “The public has spoken and it is time for leaders in both parties to come together and amend federal law in a manner that comports with marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural and legal status.”
Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, agreed.
“The fact that support continues to grow as states have been ending marijuana prohibition over the past few years suggests Americans are comfortable with the changes that are taking place,” he said. “They see cannabis being sold legally in regulated businesses and they recognize it is a much more preferable system. The idea of arresting and punishing adults for consuming marijuana is becoming increasingly unpopular, and elected officials are taking notice.”
Broken down by demographics, a majority of respondents in virtually every category voiced support for legalization. The exceptions were Republicans, Hispanic individuals and white evangelical Protestants.
That said, 59 percent of independent respondents who said they “lean Republican” favor legal cannabis, and a separate nationally representative survey from Gallup last year showed that a slim majority of Republicans (51 percent) backed legal marijuana.
“Republicans are divided, with 45 percent in favor of legalizing marijuana and 51 percent opposed,” Pew wrote of the new results. “Still, the share of Republicans saying marijuana should be legal has increased from 39 percent in 2015.”
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) October 8, 2018
Diving into the results as broken down by generation signals that legalization is a trend that will only accelerate in the future. Seventy-four percent of millennials back ending prohibition, as do 63 percent of those in Generation X. Only the Silent Generation opposes legalization overall, but Pew reports that its members “have become more supportive in the past year.”
Growing support for legalization has closely followed legislative developments at the state and local level, the survey authors observed. “This November, voters across seven states will vote on a variety of statewide and local marijuana reform measures,” Hannah Hartig and Abigail Geiger of Pew wrote.
What direction voters in those jurisdictions will take next month is yet to be seen, but this and other polls seems to reveal a political landscape where reform efforts have the advantage over sustained prohibition.
Photo courtesy of Nicholas C. Morton.