Marijuana Legalization Support at Record High, 75% Say Legalization “Inevitable”

New polling shows Americans are not backing down on their support or acceptance of marijuana legalization. Overall support has continued it’s upward trend, and is now at 54% overall, another record high in support.

54% support marijuana legalizationOther polling data shows a very solid two- thirds majority support drug treatment instead of just jail for those charged with hard drugs like heroin and cocaine. And an overwhelming majority believe full legalization nationwide is inevitable.

This extensive polling data collection by Pew Research is part of their long term trend analysis of views on drug laws and reform in America.  The survey is all good news for reformers, and includes details like:

  • 75% believe legalization of marijuana nationwide is inevitable. That includes both those support it and those who don’t.
  • Alcohol is seen as a bigger danger than marijuana by overwhelming margins, to both individual health and society.
  • Mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenses are seen as a bad thing by a huge margin, 63%-32%. Just a decade ago, those numbers were almost even.
  • 67% believe the government should focus of providing drug treatment instead of prosecuting drug users.
  • Medical marijuana legalization is supported by a vast majority of Americans of all demographic groups.
  • There is overwhelming support for decriminalization. 76% believe that possession of small amounts of marijuana should not lead to jail time.

In spite of their views on legal reform, Americans are still concerned with drug use and abuse.

  • 87% still believe that drug abuse is a “crisis”, or a “serious problem”. Only 13% think it is a minor problem or not a problem.
  • 54% believe legalization of marijuana would lead to more underage people smoking weed.
  • 63% would be “bothered” by public marijuana use. 

Alcohol more harmful than marijuanaBut data suggested they have taken the rational position that decriminalization and prohibition have made the problem worse. And they have a clear-eyed view of the risks of marijuana, especially compared to alcohol use and abuse.

The polling on relative harm between alcohol and marijuana is particularly stunning. It is widely accepted that alcohol is far more dangerous than marijuana, despite the fact that alcohol is legal everywhere, and marijuana is illegal almost everywhere.

The Colorado Effect or Basic Long Term Trends?

The impact of legalization in Colorado and Washington may be a factor in national trends. People across the nation have seen legal weed sales proceed in an orderly fashion in Colorado. The sky hasn’t fallen. Society hasn’t collapsed in a cloud of cannabis smoke.

And the state is bringing in millions of dollars in tax revenues for it’s troubles.  What’s not to like? And, for the naysayers, what were they afraid of? Whatever it was, it surely hasn’t happened.

Legal retail sales will begin soon in Washington State. Legalization initiatives are on the ballot, and have a great chance to pass this year in at least two states: Alaska, and Oregon. Other states like Arizona may also have a chance to get marijuana legalization before the voters this year.

And sooner or later, Legislators in some state – it could be Rhode Island, Vermont, or anywhere – will simply accept reality, and pass a legalization bill themselves, without the voters doing it directly.

The times are changing, and voters minds have already changed – way ahead of the laws and the politicians.

If there is one broad conclusion to be drawn from this polling data, it is that Americans are completely over the war on drugs.

 

About David Matson

David writes about criminal justice issues.
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