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Prohibitionists’ Poll Backfires, Reveals 83% Support for Cannabis Reform

January 19, 2018
Trial lawyers have a well-known rule of thumb about witnesses: Never ask them a question you don’t already know the answer to.

The ardent prohibitionists over at Project SAM, headed by Kevin Sabet and Patrick Kennedy, may want to consider that advice the next time they commission a poll.

Vox reported earlier today that the anti-cannabis advocacy group hired Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, of Jacksonville, Florida, to ask 1,000 registered voters around the nation about their views on marijuana legalization.

The question put to the voters was as follows:

QUESTION: I want to ask a few questions about marijuana policy in the United States. Currently, possessing and using marijuana is against federal law. Which one of the following best describes your preference on national marijuana policy?

  • Keep the current policy
  • Keep the current policy, but legalize the use of marijuana for physician-supervised medical use
  • Decriminalize marijuana use by removing the possibility of jail time for possession and also allowing for medical marijuana, but keep the sale of marijuana illegal.
  • Legalize the commercial production, use and sale of marijuana for recreational use, as they have done recently in several states.

The public responded with a loud and overwhelming vote in favor of change. In all, 83% of respondents said they want to see some form of federal cannabis legal reform, which is exactly what Project SAM is working against. Here’s how the numbers broke down:

What is your preference on national marijuana policy?

Source: Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy /


Gender, Age, and Political Differences

Some of the poll’s most interesting findings came in the areas of gender, age, and political affiliation. There’s still a minor gap between men and women when it comes to adult-use legalization, with 53% of men favoring it compared to only 46% of women. The gender gap was virtually nonexistent when it came to keeping prohibition and legalizing medical only.

People under 50 were much more likely to favor legalization of all types compared to people over 50. Only 8% of the younger demographic wanted to keep cannabis federally illegal, while 25% of people over 50 favored the current policy. On full adult-use legalization, 54% of the younger set favored it, compared to only 44% of the 50+ crowd.

Democrats overwhelmingly supported various forms of legal reform, while one-quarter of Republicans wanted to keep cannabis fully illegal. Interestingly, more Independents expressed a preference for full adult-use (57%) than those who identified as Democrats (55%). Only 36% of Republicans opted for full adult-use legalization.

Source: Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy /


It’s… a Victory! Kind of.

Officials at SAM spun the poll results as best they could.

“New National Poll Shows Support for Marijuana Legalization Dips Below 50% When Voters Are Given Other Policy Choices,” read the headline on their media release. Well… that’s just not so. Project SAM continues to oppose all forms of cannabis legalization, and has always considered medical legalization as “legalization.” So by their own definition, the poll shows 78% support for exactly the kind of legalization they spend their days opposing.


Liberty, Jobs, and Freedom: How Cannabis Became a Conservative Issue

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

View Bruce Barcott's articles

  • Grow Your Own

    As Peter Tosh famously said “Legalize IT Yah”
    Treat Cannabis the same as Alcohol, Sell it and Tax it Nation wide. Legal use for 21 and older.

  • Stel-1776

    And it was worded poorly. “Legalize the commercial production, use and sale of marijuana for
    recreational use, as they have done recently in several states.” does not mention medical legalization. If they had it would probably be higher than 49%.

  • Mary Lucas

    It’s no secret that the only way to make America great again is by legalizing cannabis!!

  • Legalization hasn’t had the negative impacts opponents feared. Tax revenues, jobs and happier citizens with access to cannabis and alternatives to opiate pain medications are all value adds for society. Prohibition does not work.

  • Jetdoc

    There’s nothing I like more than watching Kevin Sabet get bitch slapped by his own poll!

  • Donna Johnson

    Complete Legalization. I am 68 Years old.

  • lacyd51

    I’m 67 yrs. old have have been using marijuana for the better part of 50yrs. I am healthy, happy and productive.

    • Gary Parker

      Interesting…as I help gather signatures in Utah to get Medical Cannabis on the ballot, I find the elderly are huge supporters. I love it.

  • Paul Mcnally

    Legalization would alleviate many of the problems associated with PTSD.

  • Mike Bryant

    Hate polls. What kind of convoluted statistic is this question supposed to feed? “Would you support or oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws if it did not involve penalties for possession and use of small amounts of marijuana?”