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Pew Poll Finds Majority Support for Marijuana Legalization

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #779)

For the first time since the Pew Research Center started polling on the question 40 years ago, it has found that a majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. In a Pew poll released Thursday, 52% supported legalization, with only 45% opposed.

The Pew results are in line with other recent polls on the topic. Five polls released in December showed marijuana legalization hovering on the cusp of majority support. Those polls had support at 47%, 48%, 50%, 54%, and 57%, respectively.

The Pew poll found majority support for marijuana legalization among Democrats, independents, and liberal and moderate Republicans. There was also majority support among all age groups except those before the Baby Boom generation.

The gender gap continues to be evident. Some 57% of men supported legalization, but only 48% of women.

The poll also found considerable skepticism about enforcing the marijuana laws, with 72% agreeing that "government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth" and 60% saying that the federal government should not try to enforce marijuana laws in states where it is legal.

Drug reformers liked the poll results.

"I've always tended to be cautious in claiming that we've hit the 'tipping point' on marijuana legalization," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "But we're there now. And I'd say we're trailing marriage equality by just a half-step, even if far fewer elected officials are willing to join publicly with us as yet."

The Pew poll has lots and lots of informative detail. It's worth clicking on the link above to check it out.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Matt B (not verified)

"And I’d say we’re trailing marriage equality by just a half-step, even if far fewer elected officials are willing to join publicly with us as yet."

Mr. Nadelman, I agree with that statement. That being said...

I'd like to formally and unapologetically rip the Democrats a new one for their OBSESSION, which results in fervent prioritization of gay marriage while continuing to condemn medical cannabis. If you're a Democrat and care about civil liberties, you should be as angry with your politicians as you are with Republicans.

We're talking "I want my marriage recognized" vs. FORCED JAIL TIME, and a LIFETIME SCARLET LETTER here. There is no bloody comparison!!!

If I were gay, I'd say to hell with the government and consider myself married. Why do you gays need the approval of this tyrannical regime? Is it all about money?

For me it's all about cannabis preserving what little useful eyesight I have left! I am already taking eyedrops as prescribed.

So, Democrats, I'm sorry I was born disabled instead of gay. Will you forgive me? Obama won't.

(Slams fist on podium).

Thu, 04/04/2013 - 6:00pm Permalink
True Story (not verified)

In reply to by Matt B (not verified)

So you're saying people should stop caring about the issue that hurts their own lives so that they should instead care about the issue that hurts yours?

Thu, 04/04/2013 - 11:13pm Permalink
atrocity (not verified)

In reply to by True Story (not verified)

I don't wish to diminish the stupidity of marriage discrimination, but I agree with the fundamental point that prohibition is a larger, more direct and more intentional inflictor of damage to private lives and society as a whole.

Sadly, the real issue here is that there's no money in being against gay marriage while there's billions to be had supporting prohibition.  Democrats are supporting same-sex marriage in droves now for the simple reason that it's safe and costs them nothing.

Fri, 04/05/2013 - 3:49pm Permalink
Matt B (not verified)

In reply to by True Story (not verified)

This is exactly the type of response that this OBSESSION of the Democrats creates. If I don't come out with some sort of disclaimer about how adamantly I support gay marriage, people assume things... yet it's ok to be for gay marriage and against medical cannabis...

I WANT MARRIAGE OUT OF THE TAX CODE. That is the truly American answer to the problem.

Fri, 04/05/2013 - 4:20pm Permalink
Opie O'Phile (not verified)

In reply to by True Story (not verified)

Well fortunately it is possible to care about two issues at the same time. It is a sad and pathetic state of affairs that homosexuals are not given the same rights as heterosexuals. Having said that, drug users have even less rights. 

Are homosexuals discriminated against when applying for public benefits, housing, employment or when applying for a higher Ed loan? If they are discriminated against there exists legal protections. Meanwhile discrimination against drug users is not only legal, it is actually written into our laws. 

Are homosexuals going to jail for violating anti-sodomy laws? What about drug users violating controlled substances laws?

Are homosexuals coerced into "treatment" (for the "disease" of having sexual preferences outside of the social norm) under threat of incarceration? No, but drug users are regularly sentenced to "treatment" by drug courts for having pharmacological preferences outside of social norms.

Are there SWAT teams breaking into the homes of homosexuals, shooting their pets, terrifying their children and occasionally, unintentionally, killing the homeowners? 

Are homosexuals denied access to medication that makes life more bearable, even essential? There are people whose quality of life is vastly improved by using cannabis, opiates or stimulants but are unable to get what they need because someone, somewhere might actually *gasp* use the drugs to get high. 

What is the body count generated so far by not allowing gays to marry? What is the body count so far caused by drug prohibition? The former is pathetic, the latter tragic. 

Fri, 04/05/2013 - 7:01pm Permalink
Malcolm (not verified)


Fight Prohibition with Jury Nullification!

When called for jury duty on a case concerning a drug violation with no overt act of violence, do not convict! If the offender is non-violent, do not send them to prison! Another person in a federal or state prison for drugs is not going to make society any better or our families any safer, in fact, it WILL do the exact opposite.

* It only takes one juror to prevent a guilty verdict. 

* You are not lawfully required to disclose your voting intention, ether before or after taking your seat on a jury.

* You are also not required to give a reason to your fellow jurors on your position when voting—simply state that you find the accused not guilty.

* Jurors must understand that it is their opinion, their vote. It is of no consequence If the Judge or the other jurors disapprove; there is no punishment for having a dissenting opinion.

We must create what we can no longer afford to wait for: Please Vote To Acquit!

Thu, 04/04/2013 - 6:03pm Permalink

i agree with the dude about gay marriage vs drug legalization. its totally ridiculous. dont get on my case about it and call me a homophobe, i am no homophobe at all i love all gay lesbian trangender bi etc. etc. they are some of the greatest friends ive ever, EVER had and i want their marriage legalized infact its outrageous that its not already BUT i cannot sit here and objectively say that their issue takes priority over ours. Look, gay marriage is a legit issue but what the hell man they can be married, why the hell does anybody care about the recognition of the church or gov't? who cares? i never understand attention whores but whatever. i mean, if im with somebody, im with them, i dont see why anybodies acknowledgement is altogether necessary - no im not arguing against gay marriage, im not at all, i just think its not even close in level of issue to drug reform at all.nobodies dying cause men cant marry men. if families are being ruined because homosexuals cant marry well id say thats sensational. there's no real reason i can see where the prohibition of gay marriage should effect any kind of fatal catastrophe or life destruction. in essence gay marriage prohibition is not genocide in motion. obviously i am biased as a drug reformer but i truly do have a passion for gay marriage being legalized as well i know the hurt so many friends have suffered over it. That being said, I just try to step back and objectively look at the issues here and i just cant see its pertinence over ours. I cant. maybe someone can help me understand why on a demonstrable level it is more relevent?


ok that aside, did the poll ask about drug legalization as a whole? does anybody know? look, great news for the weed crowd, no doubt. im curious though if drug legalization as a whole and questions about whether or not the public feels the overall war on drugs is costing more than its worth? im sorry im a heroin guy so id just like to know what the deal is.


either way i read stats once, 100 million people in the world smoke weed, 50 million use opiates, millions of amphetamine lovers, shroom eaters, upper uppers, downer downers, acid droppers, basers, rippers, bangers, slammers, sniffers, shooters, poppers, vaporizers, smokers, blowers etc. etc. it is truly time to mobilize the druggie army and sound a call to arms cause for all this  talk of a war on drugs i dont know that drugs have ever fought back, not once. Yet they keep prostrating us, persecuting us, hunting us like pagan heathens in some twisted modern manifestation of the spanish inquisition. It makes me wonder though, if we did, if we truly did unite and for just once finally fought back if we couldn't effect something that would perhaps be, in a metaphorical sense, comparable to the tsunami that eviscerated the mongol army that sat 100,000 strong off the coast of Japan once upon a time. Maybe a united junkie tsunami in such a way as that they've raped us for so long, time and time again, but once for us to unite and put them down forever - and when we do we MUST ABSOLUTELY institute a means to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Some legislation to forever forbid prohibition, so that when we die we know our great great great grand kids can smoke opium in peace. (or weed, meth, crack or whatever your hoping your future kin will smoke)

Thu, 04/04/2013 - 10:09pm Permalink
420future (not verified)

The reason gay equals cool in society right now even for politicians is because of people like Ellen Degeneres and other celebrities are publicly coming out to a thunderous cultural applause. On top of that there are shows like Modern Family and other huge hit TV series that have normalized gay relationships on the big screen in the past decade.


Pot still suffers from the stigma created by our governments continued support for the increasingly unpopular drug war.  There are lots of war profiteers (private prisons, law enforcement, drug testing companies, among others) that are making a killing on the status quo.  These financial incentives for established lobbies currently outweigh the will of the people and its desire for cannabis legalization in the eyes of our political class. The propaganda that cannabis is somehow evil and wrong is still very strong within most of the established institutions of this country.  Obviously the people of the United States have begun to wake up on this issue.  When will the politicians?


Get cannabis on television without Cheech and Chong and/or Reefer Madness references and you have the beginning of social change with regards to pot. 

Fri, 04/05/2013 - 2:31am Permalink
kickback (not verified)

Cannabis Prohibition is now standing on one leg . That one leg has a " lie " disease in it . It`s already buckling at the knee . The current Cannabis Prohibitionists are reaching out to their teachers and instructors . Their faithful amongst the general public . Where are they ? Maybe they should look in the cemetery . What kind of moral minded Human , wages war against a plant and those who are associated with a plant ? Must be the $$$ and the desire of a dark soul .

Sat, 04/06/2013 - 5:24am Permalink
drmaddogs (not verified)

Percentage needs at least 55 to 40%, the votes always show a 10% change at the voting booth on this issue. So maybe in another year, as long as possible National Political leaders do not make it a 'Law and Oder' they run on. Romney did as his Campaign contribution Manager ran 'Health and Re-education/Drug recovery businesses (gotta love how crony capitalism works even in the Drug War) I do not know how the issue will be spread among the voting masses when the percentages are enough as to threaten the established rules, but the issue will be exposed.... like gay marriage  inasmuch MSM will crank out stories galore to promote TV advertising time and Politicians will try to turn everyone against each other to emotionally direct voters.

I believe this will be the apparent timing indicator for sufficient percentage that could get a National reg change. It will take some time from that point to get things done as the powers that be will attempt to direct and navigate the issue to where they may profit most handsomely. 

Thu, 04/11/2013 - 11:34am Permalink
mexweeds (not verified)

So over 50% now approve of cannabis legalization-- note that this is without specifying method-of-use issues which have a bearing on outcomes (which when negative can be routinely blamed by deceitful obstructors on the herb itself rather than on the faulty practices of misinformed users).

Just as the overwhelmingly familiar $igarette (promoted by over a trillion dollars of advertising over the last century) has become the world's number one killer (not only of humans but of the forest), a widely publicized and celebrated cannabis "cousin", the JOINT (alias giant, as in overdose) produces harms conveniently blamed on cannabis, including the "gateway to hard drugs" effect where the true gateway is heat shock, carbon monoxide and 4221 other combustion toxins masquerading before youngsters as "the real marijuana experience you paid your money for".  The ulterior purpose of the HBOM hot burning overdose monoxide joint is to soften up the victim for more money expenditures, maybe alcohol, super clothes, spectatorial entertainments ("get high and watch this"), eventually nicotine $igarette addiction itself.

Fri, 04/12/2013 - 3:15pm Permalink

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