Although it is largely accepted that most Americans want to keep marijuana criminalized, or the first time since they began polling the question four decades ago, Pew Research Polling has released new survey data that reveals 52% of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. Only 45% were opposed.
This may be surprising, since media portrayals of marijuana on the news have historically promoted a negative attitude surrounding marijuana, however in reality, support for its legalization is spread across demographics. The Baby Boomers (50%), Generation X (54%), and Millenials (65%) all have majority support for legalization. The only age demographic that remains opposed is the Silent Generation, those born before 1942, though support in this age group has also significantly increased. 32% of this age group now support legalization, up from 17% in 2002.
The polling data also reveals that most Americans have also tried marijuana personally. Reporting that 48% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked if they have consumed marijuana. This figure is up from 38% which was reported a decade ago.
Not only are Americans becoming more supportive of the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, but there has also been a dramatic shift in how Americans view marijuana use. In 2006, Pew Research found that 50% of Americans believed smoking marijuana was “morally wrong” and only 35% did not think it was a moral issue. Today these numbers have completely changed with 50% of Americans responding in the latest survey that using marijuana “is not a moral issue” and only 32% stated it was “morally wrong”.
60% of Americans across all political orientations also believe the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that legalize it. 57% of Republicans, 59% of Democrats, and 64% of Independents believe the federal government should leave states like Washington and Colorado to continue their own regulation and taxation of marijuana.
Since attitudes concerning marijuana use and support for its legalization have risen so markedly since the 60s (A 1969 Gallup survey found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use, while 84% were opposed), our politicians and representatives should work to reform marijuana criminalization laws.