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A Record High 64% of Americans Say Cannabis Should be Legal

October 25, 2017
(VasilevKirill/iStock)
Cannabis legalization support continues to rise in the United States, as a new Gallup poll finds that 64% of adults believe that cannabis prohibition should end.

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The poll, taken Oct. 5-11, and is the highest level of public support Gallup has found in nearly a half-century of measurement, dating back to 1969. Back in 1969, only 12% of adults supported legalization. That support started to rise in the 1990s, and climbed steadily throughout the early 2000’s.

Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, said the new Gallup data shows that there’s no reason to keep cannabis federally illegal.

“At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when nearly two-thirds of voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or moral perspective to maintain the federal prohibition of marijuana,” Strekal said in a statement. “It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and to end the needless criminalization of marijuana — a policy failure that encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.”

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Gallup’s data shows that the trajectory of Americans’ views on cannabis is similar to that of their views on same-sex marriage over the past couple of decades. The rates of support for both issues remained very similar throughout the 90s, and today, both garner 64% support in the US.

Another fascinating find by Gallup: The growing support of cannabis legalization among the GOP, with 51% of respondents who identify themselves as Republicans now expressing support for legalizing cannabis, up nine percentage points from 2016.

Graph from Gallup press release.

Poll Finds 71% Support in Connecticut

Another poll, released earlier today by Sacred Heart University, found that 71% of Connecticut residents support legalizing and taxing cannabis for adult use.

The poll, conducted on Oct. 3-12, surveyed 1,000 Connecticut residents from around the state. The pollsters found a strong increase from 2015, when support for legalizing was at 63%.

“An overwhelming majority of Connecticut residents support regulating and taxing marijuana,” said Sam Tracy, director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. “Elected officials should listen to their constituents and legalize marijuana in Connecticut, rather than continue to ignore this source of new jobs, new tax revenue, and improved public health. This is a clear mandate for the legislature to enact sensible marijuana laws to help the state create a workable budget.”

Gage Peake's Bio Image

Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • DWallace32342

    About half of the U.S. population has tried cannabis, at least 15% use it regularly, over 80% of high school seniors have reported cannabis “easy to get” for decades. Those who really want to use cannabis already are. Prohibition does little or nothing to prevent problematic use. In many cases prohibition makes cannabis usage problematic where it would not have been otherwise. The main thing that cannabis prohibition successfully prohibits is effective regulation.

    A few issues created by prohibition: there are no quality controls to reduce contaminants (harmful pesticides, molds, fungus, other drugs), there is no practical way to prevent underage sales, billions in tax revenue are lost which can be used for all substance abuse treatment, underground markets for all drugs are empowered and expanded as a far more popular substance is placed within them, criminal records make pursuing many decent careers difficult, public mistrust and disrespect for our legal system, police, and government is increased, which can be devastating.

    Prohibition is also very expensive, though, a cash cow for a number of powerful groups such as those related to law enforcement and the prison industry. They have powerful lobbies and influence that perpetuate a failed drug policy through ignorance, fear, disinformation and misinformation. This ensures an endless supply of lucrative contracts and grants from the government, to support their salaries, tools of the trade, and other expenses. Cash, property and other assets from civil forfeiture laws also significantly fatten their coffers while often violating civil rights.

    Those who wish to live in a free society must accept that this means freedom for all people of that society, not only for certain groups and the activities they happen to enjoy. Obviously in some cases there are extreme circumstances that warrant intervention with criminal law. In the case of mind-altering drugs we have already set this precedent with alcohol. Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and especially to others. If we are to have justice, then the penalties for using, possessing and selling cannabis should be no worse than those of alcohol.

    Considering the many issues created by cannabis prohibition, coupled with little, if any, reduction in problematic use, its continued support is irrational and harmful. Please help bring end to this irrational, costly and unjust prohibition. The organizations listed below fight every day to bring us sensible cannabis policies. Help them fight by joining their mailing lists, signing their petitions and writing your legislators when they call for it:

    NORML – National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws – http://norml.org/
    DPA – Drug Policy Alliance – http://www.drugpolicy.org/
    MPP – The Marijuana Policy Project – http://www.mpp.org/
    LEAP – Law Enforcement Action Partnership – http://www.leap.cc/

    • Alifor Cody

      Bravo! At first, I didn’t know where you were going with this. But damn, this is just pure logic here. Very thorough analysis, yet concise and systematically rational throughout. I’ve known and stated for years that alcohol is not just equally harmful if used improperly, but actually far worse in so many ways. I’m happy we’re heading in the right direction, but full prohibition on the federal level cannot come fast enough.

    • Jaycee Montrose

      Excellent!!!

  • Grass Chief

    Gallup’s data proves that the majority of Americans’ views on cannabis
    is similar to that of their views on same-sex marriage over the last couple of years.

  • James Crosslin

    Record ‘high’…lol

  • Robert Marino

    What scares the shit out of me is if the entire society goes around stoned how the hell will anything get done?

    • Joel Munson

      What makes you assume everyone would be stoned? Does everyone go around hammered all the time?

  • Keith Duplantier

    Let the Feds put there tax and states on it for all Health Care pluses more jobs more money to spend.