A majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to a poll released yesterday. This is the first time in 40 years of polling that the scales have tipped in favor of cannabis reform. Only 45 percent of the 1,501 adults polled though marijuana should remain illegal.
The study, conducted by Pew Research Center, found that support for cannabis legalization has risen by 11 percentage points in just three years. To all of us who support cannabis, the study reflects what we already knew. But nevertheless it's interesting to see the growth in public support. In the 1960s, the poll found that only 12 percent favored legalizing cannabis.
Not surprisingly, young people born since 1980 have the highest approval percentages, with 65 percent responding they would legalize cannabis. That number is up from just 36 percent in 2008. Baby boomers also support cannabis law changes, with up to 50 percent agreeing with legalization.
Interestingly, the GenX'ers born between 1965 and 1980 only favor legalization by about 42 percent. It seems D.A.R.E. lies and propaganda from Nancy Reagan really worked on them. Not surprisingly, those born before 1965 tend to be the least in favor, with only 32 percent agreeing that something should be done to change marijuana laws in this country.
A graph from the poll.
Use has gone up as well. The study reports that 48 percent of the respondents said they have tried marijuana - up ten percentage points from a decade ago. About 12 percent say they have used ganja in the last 12 months, with more than 30 percent saying they use it for medical reasons. The study also questions the morality of cannabis use, with a surprising 32 percent saying it was morally wrong to consume cannabis. Thankfully, 50 percent said this wasn't a moral issue at all.
Most importantly, the study questioned whether or not federal enforcement was worth the cost. Seventy percent said the war on drugs is a waste of money at this point. Sixty percent said the federal government should leave states like Colorado and Washington alone and let them handle their statewide measures that legalized small amounts of cannabis.
Lets hope that Attorney General Eric Holder - who is still stalling in his response to Colorado and Washington legalization laws - pays attention to polls like this.