Support for Marijuana Legalization is Soaring Nationwide

Support for Marijuana Legalization is Soaring Nationwide

According to a new Gallup poll, 60% of Americans support marijuana legalization – a new record high. The data comes less than 3 weeks before voters in 9 states decide on whether to expand legal access to pot. [1]

Gallup first asked Americans their opinions on the topic in 1969. At the time, just 12% of respondents approved of legalizing weed. In the late 1970’s, support briefly rose to 28%, but quickly fell in the low- to mid-20’s throughout much of the 80’s and 90’s, when the federal war on drugs was at its height. [2]

Support grew to 31% by the year 2000, and climbed to 58% last year. [1]

Recreational marijuana is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, and the District of Columbia. After November 8, it could also be legal in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

In Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota, voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana for medical use, and Montanans will vote on whether to ease restrictions on existing medical marijuana law.

The poll, which was based on telephone interviews conducted from October 5-9, with a random sample of more than 1,000 adults in all 50 states, also revealed the following:

  • 67% of Democrats support legalization, compared to 42% of Republicans, and 70% of independents.
  • Support among adults aged 18-34 was 77%, compared to 45% among those over 55.

The results were similar to those of a Pew Research Center poll released October 12, which showed that 57% of U.S. adults supported marijuana legalization, an increase from 32% a decade earlier.

Source: Leafly


While fewer Republicans favor legalization of pot, support has still more than doubled among the party in the past decade. [2]

Gallup notes that “the transformation in public attitudes about marijuana over the past half-century has mirrored the liberation of public attitudes about gay rights and the same-sex marriage movement.”

Additionally, Gallup points out that the outcome of the November measures could drastically alter the marijuana policy conversation going forward:

“The percentage of Americans living in states where pot use is legal could rise from the current 5% to as much as 25% if all of these ballot measures pass.”

Gallup goes on to say:

“If recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California this year, many other states will likely follow, because the ‘Golden State’ often sets political trends for the rest of the U.S.”

California stands to make about $1 billion in tax revenue if recreational weed is legalized next month.

Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, an advocacy group, said in a statement:

“More politicians — presidential candidates included — would do themselves a big favor to take note of the clear trend and then vocally support legalization.” [3]

The good news is that some politicians are on the majority of Americans’ side in the debate, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont.

However, many other lawmakers are still clinging to prohibition, even in some places where pot is already legal. One example is Washington, D.C., where a year after legalization, congressional conservatives continued to ban sales of it.

Perhaps the biggest offense to marijuana advocates and sensible users, however, was the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) decision in August not to reclassify pot from a Schedule I substance, to a more sensible (but still fairly outrageous) Schedule II.

Doing so would have essentially made marijuana legal for medical use nationwide, and would have made it much easier for researchers and drug companies to study it.


[1] Chicago Tribune

[2] The Washington Post

[3] The Huffington Post