The majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana and ultimately the repeal of prohibition, so says a recent report. Last week, researchers behind the General Social Survey unveiled the results of their latest dig into the public’s opinion on whether weed should be made legal across the United States.
For the first time in the history of the poll, the results show strong support for full-blown legalization — 52% — while only 42% sided with prohibition.
Although the results are not necessarily staggering, they do represent a significant increase — nearly 10% — from the last time the survey was released in 2012. Interestingly, while 7% of the 1,687 respondents said they were undecided on the issue of legalization, the overall results are nearly identical to a 2014 Pew Survey, which also revealed that 52% of the population stands behind the legalization of the leaf.
Four decades ago, not even 20% of Americans supported the legalization of marijuana, but the numbers began to steadily increase by the late 1970s. Unfortunately, they would soon fold again under President Ronald Reagan’s revitalization of the War on Drugs, and by 1990, there appeared to be little hope that the movement to legalize weed in the United States could even survive — only 16% of the population stood behind it. Yet, by the time California legalized cannabis for medicinal use in 1996, the issue was beginning to see a resurgence of support, with around 32% standing behind the just 10 years later.
A closer examination of the survey shows that legalization continues to inspire the population to reconsider their position. The latest results were collected last year at a time when Colorado and Washington were launching their retail markets, so it stands to reason that with the advent of Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia, the results of next survey in 2016 could signal support of around 61%. If that happens, we could be nearing the homestretch for the repeal of prohibition. Some lawmakers believe public opinion must consistently reside in the 62% range before the federal government will reconsider its policy. The latest GSS report signifies that we are getting close.