A new Gallup poll shows that 50% of voters nationwide answered “Yes” to the question, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” Only 46% of respondents answered “No.” This is the first time on record that more Americans support ending marijuana prohibition than support maintaining the status quo of arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession. Support for marijuana reform has been growing steadily over the last few decades, but this poll shows a 4% increase over last year, when Gallup asked respondents the same question.
Opinions were heavily divided by age, with support being strongest among 18-29 year olds (62%) and 30-49 year olds (56%). The results were also quite divided geographically, with the highest support coming from the West, Midwest, and East.
“This is an historic day in the decades-long war on marijuana. As of today, a majority of the American public believes the use of marijuana should be legal for adults,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Moreover, it is clear from the levels of support among various age groups that support will only increase over time. None of this is surprising. Americans know that prohibition is a failed policy. It was true for alcohol, and it is true for marijuana, a substance far less harmful than alcohol. The American people are clearly saying it is time to stop arresting adults for using marijuana. Now it is time for our elected officials to listen to the public.”
This poll comes at an interesting time, with many states re-examining their marijuana laws and a series of bills sitting before Congress that would limit federal involvement in marijuana policy. Currently, the Obama administration is reversing its earlier stance of non-interference in medical marijuana states and is increasing efforts to shut down the medical marijuana industry in California and elsewhere, a move that experts say will drive medical marijuana patients into the criminal market to obtain their medicine. At the same time, several states, including Colorado, California, and Washington, are considering ballot initiatives that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
The poll, conducted October 6-9 by Gallup, surveyed 1,005 registered voters from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It is available for download at http://www.gallup.com/poll/150149/Record-High-Americans-Favor-Legalizing-Marijuana.aspx
The campaign to end marijuana prohibition received a noteworthy endorsement last week, when the head of the second-largest teachers union in the country said that she supports this year’s ballot initiative in California to regulate marijuana.
Randi Weingarten, president of the 856,000-member American Federation of Teachers, told HBO’s “Real Time” host, Bill Maher, that “everything in moderation is pretty much fine.”
“When something becomes a forbidden fruit,” the 52-year-old told Maher, “you have to spend a whole lot of time making sure that, when you say no, people don’t think you mean yes.”
In another encouraging sign of the growing support for improving our nation’s marijuana laws, last week more than 90 percent of readers at the progressive political blog FireDogLake said they wanted to see that site “get involved” in marijuana policy reform.
Writes FDL editor Jane Hamsher:
“Our audience overwhelmingly believes that the [m]arijuana legalization initiatives are very important, and I think FDL can play a role in helping people to understand what’s at stake, and push back against the false arguments being advanced to perpetuate a [dysfunctional] status quo.”