In 20 states, medical marijuana is legal in some form. Not all of them have programs up and running, but the legislation is there. While not all states or individuals support marijuana legalization, one recent poll from the Huffington Post and YouGov indicates an overwhelming majority of Americans, including those in states where medical marijuana is a no-no, want it approved for medicinal use. And more than half think it should be legalized completely nationwide.
The poll, which can be seen here, was conducted Feb. 13-14, surveyed 1,000 US adults, and has a margin of error of 3.8%.
- 70% favor medical marijuana and only 17% oppose it
- 51% favor marijuana legalization and 34% oppose
- In states where medical marijuana is not legal, two-thirds want it legalized
- In states where medical marijuana is legal, 64% want lawmakers to do away with prohibition altogether
- In states where recreational marijuana is legal (Colo. and Wash.), 79% are happy with how the law stands
The poll revealed not everyone is well-informed on the issue, however. Some 13 percent responded that pot was legal in their state, when less than 4 percent of respondents lived in Colorado or Washington. Another 11% said they were unsure on the status of marijuana in their state.
Part of this confusion could be a matter of wording. Many people mistakenly believe that the “decriminalization” of marijuana is the same as “legalization”, which simply isn’t true. Several states have decriminalized pot possession. This means those found in possession will be fined instead of facing jail time—it’s treated as an infraction, like a parking ticket. Only Colorado and Washington have legalized the recreational use and possession of marijuana.
Political parties did seem to have some role in the responses to the poll. Sixty-two percent of democrats and 52 percent of independents want legalization, but only 32% of republicans agree.
However, when it comes to medical marijuana, everyone is closer to agreement—with 79 percent of democrats, 71 percent of independents, and 59 percent of republicans favoring medical marijuana programs.
The poll, and others like it, suggests the majority of Americans recognize there are medical benefits to the plant we commonly know as marijuana. And I’d be willing to bet that the number of supporters would go up dramatically once the stigma surrounding marijuana has been evaporated – once (mainly older) individuals become privy to the plant’s medicinal value.
The federal government doesn’t agree, however, choosing to keep it classified as a Schedule I substance, a designation that means the “drug” has no valid medical use.
As attitudes and laws continue to change, perhaps the federal government will have no choice but to wise up to the will of the people.