National Poll Finds 61 Percent of Americans in Favor of Legalizing Marijuana

Will popular support drive federal legalization?
National Poll Finds 61 Percent of Americans in Favor of Legalizing Marijuana

Despite the fact that many conservatives continue to rail against marijuana, support for legalizing weed continues to grow across the nation.

According to a new survey, there are now more Americans who support legalization than ever before. And importantly, that support is growing across all demographics and political affiliations.

This massive wave of support comes as more and more states continue legalizing medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both. Similarly, the rapidly growing support for legalization could become an important factor in the upcoming 2020 presidential race.

New Survey, New High in Public Support

The new data comes from the most recent General Social Survey (GSS). As reported by Business Insider, the GSS has been keeping tabs on popular opinions regarding marijuana since 1973.

This year, the GSS showed its highest-ever levels of support for legalization. More specifically, the GSS found that a full 61 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legalized.

This stat marks a huge jump over past years. Most notably, it shows a dramatic uptick since 1987 and 1990, the years with the lowest levels of support. Those years, only 16 percent of the U.S. adult population supported legalization.

In many ways, the overall support for legalization is one of the most important findings from the new survey. But there are other key data embedded in this larger statistic.

For example, the GSS also broke down support for legalization along a number of demographic and political lines. And these numbers also reveal some powerful trends.

Perhaps most importantly, the GSS revealed growing support among Republicans. Traditionally, conservatives have been the most strongly opposed to legalization.

And while that is still true, there is also a notable uptick in support among Republicans. Back in 2012, only one-third of Republicans said they supported legalizing weed. But today, that number has jumped to 42 percent.

Similarly, there are potentially important shifts happening among various age cohorts. Most notably, among people 65 and older.

In the past, this group has registered relatively low support for legalization. But now, the GSS shows that 42 percent of folks in this demographic now support legalization.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • 18-34 year olds show the strongest support, with more than 70 percent of folks in this age bracket voicing support for legalization.
  • Among Democratic voters, 69 percent said they support legalizing cannabis. For independents, that number is 66 percent.
  • According to a geographical breakdown of survey results, the Midwest showed the strongest support for legalization. In that region, a full 68 percent of survey respondents said they support making weed legal.
  • Support for legalization is lowest in the South. There, slightly more than half of survey respondents voiced support—still a significant percentage.

Political Implications

The rapidly growing support for legalization could have important political implications. For starters, it seems likely that this popular support is driving the growing number of states now implementing new, more liberal cannabis laws.

Additionally, this groundswell of support seems to be driving increasingly energetic efforts to make legal changes at the federal level.

Similarly, many experts believe this groundswell of support could become a big factor in next year’s presidential race. As per Business Insider, “growing public support has all 2020 presidential candidates backing different efforts to legalize marijuana—whether they are Democrats or Republicans.”

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