Even A Small Majority of Republicans Now In Favor of Legal Cannabis
A new Gallup poll released on Wednesday shows support for making cannabis legal in the United States has reached an all-time record level of 64 percent, up from 60 percent last year and 50 percent in 2011.This year’s national survey shows the greatest approval for ending marijuana prohibition in the history of the study, and the first time, that a majority of even those who identify as Republicans support making marijuana legal (51 percent).
It’s at least nice to know the GOP isn’t requiring, at least yet, that folks check their brains at the door when they join.Gallup has been asking the same question: “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” since 1969.
Only 12 percent of Americans backed cannabis legalization when the question was first asked by Gallup in the ’60s.
Weed Now Legal In 8 States and D.C.
Voters in eight states and the District of Columbia have passed initiatives regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol, and marijuana is legal for adults in the nation’s capital.
Earlier this year, Vermont became the first state to approve a bill through its legislature that would have made marijuana legal for adults before being vetoed by the governor.
Advocates in Michigan are expected to qualify an initiative for the ballot next year that would regulate marijuana for adults, and at least 18 states are expected to have legalization bills introduced during their 2018 legislative sessions.
‘It Makes Sense’
“It makes sense that support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing,” said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Americans are tired of wasting resources arresting hundreds of thousands of individuals every year for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.
“In the five years since the first states made marijuana legal for adults, it has become increasingly clear that — unlike prohibition — regulation works,” Fox said. “Adult-use marijuana laws create jobs, generate tax revenue, and protect consumers while taking the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals.
“As public support for ending marijuana prohibition continues to grow, it is crucial that states continue to be given the freedom to serve as laboratories of democracy,” Fox said. “We urge the Department of Justice in particular to continue its policy of not interfering in states with well-regulated adult-use and medical marijuana programs while lawmakers catch up to the will of the people.”
‘More Popular Than Almost Any Politician’
“These new numbers, and the continuing trend they confirm, show that legl marijuana continues to be way more popular than almost any politician — increasingly so,” said Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority. “Despite threatening rhetoric from some Trump administration officials, Americans’ support for regulating marijuana like alcohol only continues to rise year over year.
“That bodes well for efforts to pass cannabis laws in more states in 2018 — both on the ballot and through state legislatures,” Angell said.
“Nearly two out of three Americans now say that marijuana should be legalized, and it would be politically disastrous for the Trump administration to allow Jeff Sessions to break the president’s campaign pledges to respect state laws.” ~ Tom Angell, Marijuana Majority
‘A Policy Failure’
“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,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.
“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,” Strekal said.
Legalization: Not Whether, But How
“Marijuana legalization is far more popular than Jeff Sessions or Donald Trump and will survive them both,” said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Instead of wasting limited law enforcement resources trying to stop successful state-level legalization initiatives, US officials should listen to the clear, bipartisan message the public is sending them, and support federal marijuana reform as well.”
“The question is no longer whether we should legalize marijuana, but rather how we should do it,” said McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. “The Marijuana Justice Act would legalize marijuana the right way, by not only stopping the ongoing harms of prohibition, but also beginning to address the devastation that marijuana prohibition has wrought, particularly among communities of color.”
By shifting away from counterproductive marijuana arrests and focusing instead on public health, states that have legalized marijuana are diminishing many of the worst harms of the war on drugs, while managing to raise substantial new revenues. A DPA report found that Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have benefitted from a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests and convictions, as well as increased tax revenues, since the adult possession of marijuana became legal. At the same time, these states did not experience increases in youth marijuana use or traffic fatalities.