Record number of Americans support marijuana legalization, poll finds

Published on November 9, 2020
A new Gallup poll found that 68% of Americans believe cannabis should be legal—a new record high. (AdobeStock)

A new Gallup poll released this morning found that 68% of Americans believe cannabis should be legalized, the highest percentage in more than 50 years.

The Gallup organization began asking Americans about marijuana back in 1969. At that time only 12% of respondents said it should be legal.

The figure hovered in the 25-30% range between 1975 and 2000. Then it began steadily climbing.

Americans really like legalization

Support for legalization began steadily climbing in the early 2000s. It now stands at 68%. (Gallup Organization)
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Polled just before the election

The latest data are from a Sept. 30-Oct. 15 poll, with a sample size of 1,035 adults from all 50 states, conducted before the election that saw legalization proposals on the ballot in several states. Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota approved the legal use of adult-use marijuana in the Nov. 3 election. They join 11 other states and the District of Columbia.

Additionally, voters in Mississippi and South Dakota join 33 states and the District of Columbia in passing laws legalizing or decriminalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

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Age remains a key difference

As in many previous polls, support for legalization tracks with age. Older Americans tend to be less supportive, while younger respondents overwhelmingly embrace legalization. Nearly 80% of Americans age 18 to 29 support legalization, while only 55% of Americans 65 and older agree.

Younger Americans favor legalization in far greater numbers than their elders. (Gallup Organization)

Republican support dips slightly

Democrats still favor legalization in greater numbers than Republicans, with 83% of blue voters embracing it, and 48% of red voters agreeing.

Republican support dipped a bit over the past year, from 51% support in 2019 to 48% support in 2020.

Democrats still favor legalization more strongly than Republicans. (Gallup Organization)

Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, there has been a steady movement toward state-led legalization.

Over that period, Americans’ support for marijuana legalization has risen 20 points to a record-high 68%. Legalization has enjoyed majority support from the public since 2013. Additionally, Gallup data from earlier this year find that 70% of U.S. adults now consider smoking marijuana to be morally acceptable, marking a five-percentage-point uptick in one year.

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Bruce Barcott
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.
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