Most Americans Approve of Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana legalization is no longer a war cry only heard from college students, medical marijuana patients, or those more affectionately known as “pot heads”. You no longer have to use marijuana to see the war against it as a giant waste of resources and an infringement on the civil liberties of the American people. Now, for the first time, the majority of Americans back legalization.

According to the Pew Research Center, a well-respected “nonpartisan fact tank” who has been surveying Americans on the matter for four decades, this is the first time in 40 years that more than half of Americans have expressed support for legalization.

marijuana pollingTheir national survey found that 52% of Americans believe it should be made legal. This is compared to 45% who say it should not.

Support has been rising steadily over the past several decades, but has taken a sharp climb over the past few years. Just ten years ago, only 32% supported legalization.

Not surprisingly, younger people are most likely to support legalization, with 65% of those born since 1980 speaking out in favor, compared with 36% in 2008. But a surprising shift of attitude has come from older Americans as well, with half of Baby Boomers now supporting legalization, a marked difference from the 17% that supported it in 1990.

In addition to most people supporting marijuana legalization, more are admitting to trying it. Nearly half (48%) admit to trying marijuana, compared with only 38% ten years ago. It isn’t clear if more people are trying it because attitudes and stigma are shifting, or if usage rates have always been this high and they are just now more likely to admit it in the wake of such changes.

So, how do Americans feel about states who buck the federal system and pass their own marijuana statutes? Nearly 60% believe the federal government should butt out (57% of Republicans and 59% of Democrats. Closer to 70% believe the enforcement by federal agencies simply isn’t worth the cost.

So, what would we have to do to get lawmakers on the same page?

While the vast majority of Americans recognize the War on Marijuana as expensive and useless, lawmakers can’t seem to get their heads around this basic fact. While most Americans believe they should be able to choose for themselves if they want to use marijuana, the government believes they know best.

What we can do is continue fighting, by electing those who will reflect what we want and by continuing the conversation.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Renter is a freelance writer and editor who writes about criminal justice issues.

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