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Three In Five American Voters Back Nationwide Marijuana Legalization, New Poll Finds

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Three in five U.S. voters think that marijuana should be legalized across the country—and almost half say it should be a “top” or “important” congressional priority—according to a new poll.

The survey from Morning Consult and Politico, which found 60 percent support for legalization, adds to the growing body of polling data showing that Americans are ready to depart with prohibition.

A majority of Democrats (71 percent), independents (61 percent) and people under 65 said they back cannabis legalization. A plurality of Republicans (47 percent) said the same.

Among racial demographics, Black voters were most supportive of marijuana reform at 71 percent, compared to 58 percent for white people and 67 percent for Hispanic voters.

While there’s strong, increasingly bipartisan support for cannabis legalization, the survey also found that American voters view the issue as among the lower legislative priorities for Congress, with just 19 percent of respondents describing it as a “top” priority.

Another 25 percent said legalization is a “important but lower” priority, and 32 percent said it is “not too important a priority.” Just 19 percent said that the reform shouldn’t be enacted at all.

For context, more U.S, voters said that it should be a “top” congressional priority to enact legislation on health care reform (42 percent), stimulating the economy (49 percent), addressing climate change (37 percent) and reducing the federal budget deficit (45 percent).

The pollster also asked voters about the House passage of a federal legalization bill in April, and 42 percent of respondents said that they “strongly support” the legislation while 21 percent said that they “somewhat” support it.

Twelve percent said they “somewhat” oppose the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, and 17 percent said they are strongly opposed to the proposal.

Overall, with Election Day about a month away, a slew of polls have been released showing majority support for legalization in a number of states that have reform on the ballot.

Nationally, surveys have consistently found that most Americans back legalizing cannabis federally as the state-level reform movement has expanded.

Last year, for example, Gallup found that 68 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana for adult use, which is 56 percentage points higher than when the firm first asked people about the topic in 1969.

As these results have filtered in, congressional lawmakers have been working to advance comprehensive cannabis reform.

But while a federal marijuana legalization bill has cleared the House twice now—and Senate leadership filed comprehensive legislation in July to end prohibition—most insiders feel the chances of such measures being enacted this session are slim given the steep 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

In the interim, however, lawmakers are actively finalizing a package of incremental marijuana reform proposals that’s expected to include language to protect banks that work with state-legal cannabis businesses and promote marijuana research, among other things.

A poll released in August determined that two in five Americans say that they’ve changed their opinions about drug policy in their lifetime—and most say that their views shifted in a more “liberal” direction.

A recent poll separately found that most Americans don’t think marijuana is dangerous despite efforts by legalization opponents to cast the plant in a negative light.

The new Morning Consult/Politico survey involved interviews with 2,005 registered voters from September 30-October 2, with a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Meanwhile, more Americans now openly admit that they smoke marijuana or eat cannabis-infused edibles than say they’ve smoked cigarettes in the past week, according to recently released data from Gallup.

And more than twice as many Americans think that marijuana has a positive impact on its consumers and society at large than say the same about alcohol, the firm found.

That’s generally consistent with the results of a separate poll released in March that found more Americans think it’d be good if people switched to cannabis and drank less alcohol compared to those who think the substance substitution would be bad.

Meanwhile, although perceptions of the dangerousness of marijuana have been declining, fears about that translating into increased underage use have not come to fruition, despite the anti-legalization arguments from prohibitionists.

Even as more states move to legalize cannabis, youth marijuana usage rates have either remained stable or declined, multiple studies and surveys have found.

One of the most recent federally funded surveys on the topic stressed that youth marijuana use “decreased significantly” in 2021, as did teen consumption of illicit substances overall.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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