As the clouds of prohibition begin to clear, a ray of hope shines down upon cannabis, the once-demonized plant. According to recent polls, 65% of Americans now support legalizing the drug, marking a significant shift in public opinion.
The tide is turning, and it’s clear that the majority of the country is ready to embrace a more progressive approach to cannabis policy. Gone are the days of “Reefer Madness” and the fear-mongering tactics of the past. People are now recognizing the medicinal benefits of cannabis and the economic potential it holds.
As more states open their doors to marijuana, support for its legalization continues to soar. The public favors making the drug legal for medical and recreational use, reflecting a shift in attitudes towards the once-controversial plant.
A vast majority of American adults (88%) believe that marijuana should be legal, either for both medicinal and recreational use (59%) or for medicinal use only (30%), as per a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center. Only a small fraction (10%) of respondents feel that marijuana use should remain illegal. These views have remained consistent since April 2021.
The recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center revealed overwhelming support for marijuana legalization, which comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s decision to grant pardons to individuals convicted of marijuana possession at the federal level. His administration continues to review how marijuana is classified under federal law.
The survey was conducted before the midterm elections of November 8, 2022, during which two states legalized marijuana for recreational use, bringing the total number of states plus the District of Columbia that have legalized cannabis to 21.
A separate Gallup survey that measures public support for marijuana legalization over the long term has shown a significant increase in support for marijuana legalization. The survey question asks whether the use of marijuana should be made legal without specifying whether it would be legalized for medical or recreational use. The results of the 2022 survey showed that 65% of adults believe marijuana should be legal, which is an all-time high and matches the support recorded in the 2021 survey.
While support for marijuana legalization is high among Americans, there are still notable differences in views on the topic based on age and political affiliation. Although a small percentage of adults across all ages are completely opposed to marijuana legalization, older adults are significantly less likely than younger adults to support its legalization for recreational use.
The differences in views on marijuana legalization are particularly pronounced among older adults, with just 30% of those 75 years and older supporting its legalization for recreational and medical use, compared to 53% of those aged 65 to 74. In contrast, larger shares of younger age groups favor legalization for recreational and medical use.
There are also significant differences in views on marijuana legalization among Republicans and Democrats. 45% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use, and 39% support legalizing it for medical use only. 73% of Democrats and Democratic leaners support legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use, with an additional 21% supporting its legalization for medical use only.
There are also notable differences in views on marijuana legalization within each political party based on ideology. While only 37% of conservative Republicans support legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use, a majority (60%) of moderate and liberal Republicans support it.
The views on marijuana legalization also vary among Democrats based on their ideology, with nearly two-thirds of moderate and conservative Democrats (63%) supporting its legalization for recreational and medical use, while an overwhelming majority of liberal Democrats (84%) share the same view.
Additionally, there are variations in views on marijuana legalization among different ethnic and racial groups. A majority of Black adults (68%) and White adults (60%) support legalizing marijuana for both recreational and medical use, while smaller shares of Hispanic (49%) and Asian adults (48%) share the same view.
While Democrats and Republicans have vastly different views on the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use, there are also notable differences in each party based on age.
A substantial majority (62%) of Republicans aged 18-29 support the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use, compared to a minor majority (52%) of those aged 30-49. Support for legalization drops among older Republicans, with 41% of those aged 50-64 and 38% of those aged 65-74 supporting it, and only 18% of those 75 and older supporting it.
Despite the age divide, large majorities of Republicans across all age groups support the legalization of marijuana for medical use. Even among Republicans aged 65 and above, only 17% are against the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
Despite the age divide, most Democrats across all age groups support the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use. However, older democrats are less likely to hold this view, with just 51% of democrats 75 and older saying marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational purposes, compared to a more significant share of younger democrats. Nonetheless, only 8% of democrats 75 and older don’t support the legalization of marijuana even for medical use, similar to other democrats who hold the same view.
As the push for marijuana legalization continues to gain momentum, it is clear that the American public is essentially in favor of making the drug available for medical and recreational use. With growing support from various age groups, political affiliations, and ethnicities, it seems that the legalization of marijuana is no longer a matter of “if” but “when.” As more states legalize the drug and research continues to shed light on its potential benefits, we will likely see even more excellent support for legalization in the years to come. The winds of change are blowing, and the cannabis green flag is waving high and proud. (Full Story)