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Two-Thirds of Police Say Cannabis Laws Should Be Relaxed, Survey Says

January 11, 2017
Police badge on white background.
More than two-thirds of police officers say cannabis consumption should be legal for either medical or adult use, according to a Pew Research Center survey of nearly 8,000 law enforcement officers.

The survey, which polled law enforcement nationally, found that 32 percent of police officers feel cannabis should be legal for both adult and medical use. An additional 37 percent said cannabis should be legal for medicinal consumption only. Less than a third of police—30 percent—said cannabis shouldn’t be legalized at all.

Pew’s results also revealed a generational divide among cops, with officers under 35 more likely to support legalization of adult-use cannabis than their peers between 50 and 60 (37 percent and 27 percent, respectively).

From Pew Research Center.

While those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, support is still far lower among law enforcement than the general public. According to the Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham, civilians in those same age groups show 67 percent and 45 percent support, respectively, for nonmedical legalization.


Survey: More Cannabis Consumers Seek Wellness, Not Intoxication

Law enforcement groups have frequently been among the most opposed to ending cannabis prohibition, with a number of groups putting money and political support behind legalization opponents in November’s election. These groups, mainly in California and Arizona, donated thousands of dollars in attempts to defeat legalization initiatives in their states.

Pew conducted its survey of law enforcement online, from May 19 through Aug. 14, 2016, among a national sample of 7,917 police officers from local police and sheriff departments that have at least 100 sworn officers. The margin of error is between 2 percent and 3 percent.

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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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