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58% Say Legalize Marijuana in Latest Gallup Poll

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #806)

Support for marijuana legalization is at the highest levels ever, with 58% of Americans in favor, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. That's up an impressive eight points from 2011, when Gallup had 50% supporting legalization, and even more impressively, up 10 points from last year, when support had dipped to 48% in the annual poll.

The poll results are generally in line with other polls in the past couple of years that have shown half or more of Americans are ready to free the weed. As Gallup's own annual polls suggest, after support for legalization stayed around one-quarter of the population in the 1980s and 1990s, momentum has picked up since the turn of the century. Then, only 31% supported legalization; now nearly double that number are ready for it.

Gallup pointed at movement toward support of legalization by independents, now at 62% and up a big 12 points since last year. Support also increased among Democrats, from 61% to 65%, while among Republicans, only 35% favored it, although that, too, was up over last year, by a couple of points.

The pollster also singled out strong support among younger Americans and rapidly increasing -- although still not majority -- support among senior citizens. Two-thirds (67%) of 18-to-29-year-olds said legalize it, as did 62% of 30-to-49-year-olds and 56% of 50-to-64-year-olds. Only 45% of seniors agreed, but that was up a whopping 14 points over 2012.

Gallup offered several explanations for the upswing, including the victories in Washington and Colorado last year, the Obama administration's relatively soft-shoe approach to the matter, and increasing social and cultural acceptance of the plant (a sizeable 38% admitted to having tried it), driven in part by medical marijuana.

"It has been a long path toward majority acceptance of marijuana over the past 44 years, but Americans' support for legalization accelerated as the new millennium began," Gallup said in summarizing the poll results. "This acceptance of a substance that most people might have considered forbidden in the late 1960s and 1970s may be attributed to changing social mores and growing social acceptance. The increasing prevalence of medical marijuana as a socially acceptable way to alleviate symptoms of diseases such as arthritis, and as a way to mitigate side effects of chemotherapy, may have also contributed to Americans' growing support."

It was all music to drug reformers' ears as they prepared to gather this week in Denver for the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance.

"The latest poll results point to the absurdity and even venality of persisting with harsh prohibitionist policies," said Ethan Nadelmann, the Alliance's executive director. "No other law is enforced so harshly and pervasively yet deemed unnecessary by so many Americans. Spending billions of dollars and arresting 750,000 people annually for violating marijuana laws now represents not just foolish public policy but also an inappropriate and indecent use of police powers to favor one side of a cultural and political debate."

"The American people have opened their eyes to the failure that is marijuana prohibition and there is no putting the genie back in the bottle. Following the successful passage of marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington in 2012, the people of this country see that a new approach to marijuana policy is both required and possible," said NORML communications director Erik Altieri. "The majority of Americans agree that prohibition has failed and it is time to legalize and regulate. The issue can no longer be ignored or sidelined. Legalization is now the mainstream position and supporters of perpetuating our war on marijuana will continue to be further relegated to the fringe."

"The dramatically increasing support for making marijuana legal should come as no surprise," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "Marijuana prohibition has been an abject failure. Most Americans realize it is unjust, wasteful, and counterproductive to invest in the criminalization of adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol."

"The passage of adult-use marijuana initiatives in Colorado and Washington has demonstrated widespread disillusion with marijuana prohibition," noted Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. "The success of regulated medical and adult-use marijuana markets in 17 states and DC is replacing criminal enterprises with legal and responsible businesses that generate millions in tax revenue and tens of thousands of good jobs. It's no surprise that 58% of Americans now support bringing this regulated approach to all 50 states."

Both Kampia and Smith explicitly called on Congress to act to end federal pot prohibition, and Kampia said the poll "bodes well for efforts underway to change state laws around the nation." That may be an understatement. Let's check back in a on that a little bit more than a year from now.

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.


KeLeMi (not verified)

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There are 14 groups that don't want to end the War on Drugs

1 Conservative political and religious groups

2 Police and Correction officers unions (Excluding those in LEAP)

3 Liquor Industry

4 Tobacco Industry

5 Pharmaceutical industry

6 Owners of Privatized Prisons

7 Mandatory Drug Test Clinics

8 Mandatory Drug Rehab Clinics

9 Oil Industry

10 The banks that launder the Cartels’ money.

11 The Military-Industrial Complex.

12 The IRS. They can audit raided marijuana clinics for Money.

13 The CIA who helped their clients, including item 14.

14 The Drug Cartels.

Wed, 10/23/2013 - 7:40am Permalink
Ajax the Great (not verified)

In reply to by KeLeMi (not verified)

In other words, the crooks, the creeps, the cops, and the cronies.  And anyone who still supports the War on (people who use a few particular) Drugs is either stupid, ignorant, insane, brainwashed, or corrupt--or all of the above.

Tue, 01/14/2014 - 9:34pm Permalink

The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014 (MCLR) has been filed in California. With the recent public and unbiased polling supporting success in 2014, the direction for all advocates is evolving in support of this well written legislation. Californians will be given the opportunity to vote for the freedoms the majority now clearly wants. By supporting 2016, Gavin Newsome and the ACLU are ignoring nationwide statistics and are incredibly turning a blind eye to their own State's majority opinions. Voters want and expect the chance to make this critical decision for their future as soon as possible and are no longer willing to accept unsubstantiated, indefensible and special interest based delays.

Wed, 10/23/2013 - 12:36pm Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by John Lee (not verified)

John, opinion polling is one part of how to judge whether an initiative can pass. But when a specific initiative is tested, it's likely to come out lower, because people have to decide on whether they like the specifics of a bill that would actually become law. And, voter turnout also has an impact, and traditionally non-presidential years have more conservative turnout that works against us. The ACLU and others who are working on this are looking at those facts and trying to make a good decision based on them, because of all the money that's been spent and because we don't want to have a second loss in the critical state of California. It's not "indefensible" and it's certainly not "special interest based." Whether MCLR's decision to go ahead is defensible depends on facts that you don't appear to have looked at and analysis that you don't appear to have done. I'm not saying it's impossible for it to pass, and of course a good polling result suggests that one should take a close look. Perhaps a good analysis of things will show that 2014 is possible, but perhaps it won't.

Wed, 10/23/2013 - 4:28pm Permalink
Buford Pomeroy (not verified)

I agree,the groups and organizations that say no always have a hidden agenda.I feel that's why the seinor + people in America still hold on to the idea that everything these groups ie. CIA DEA FBI.... say, is the word of God therefor the way every good American believes or should believe.I myself feel that the powers to be feel that inside every human being on earth is an American trying to come out.We the people...doesn't mean what it's suppose to.
Wed, 10/23/2013 - 7:11pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

If you or your loved ones have stock in drug testing labs, or privatized correctional facilities, you need to divest or sell short.  No industry or investment lasts forever.  Marijuana prohibition is on life support.  The house of cards prohibitionists have so carefully constructed is about to be sucked into oblivion.  Save yourselves.  Get your money out immediately.

Thu, 10/24/2013 - 11:14pm Permalink
Annapurna1 (not verified)

the US is far past the point where polls or votes matter anymore...policy agendas are dictated by campaign sponsors..and the earlier poster has already given us a short laundry list of campaign such..whoever wins the election on whatever empty promises will continue to escalate the drug war.. otherwise..the corporate lobbyists will simply get him "voted out" and install somebody who will...

Fri, 10/25/2013 - 10:57am Permalink

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