america marijuana reform new york
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Three-Quarters Of US Adults Say That Marijuana Legalization Is Inevitable

america marijuana reform new yorkBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Seventy-five percent of Americans believe that the sale and use of cannabis will eventually be legal for adults, according to national polling data released this week by the Pew Research Center. Pew pollsters have been surveying public opinion on the marijuana legalization issue since 1973, when only 12 percent of Americans supported regulating the substance.

Fifty-four percent of respondents say that marijuana ought to be legal now, according to the poll. The total is the highest percentage of support ever reported by Pew and marks an increase of 2 percent since 2013. Forty-two percent of respondents said that they opposed legalizing marijuana for non-therapeutic purposes. Only 16 percent of Americans said that the plant should not be legalized for any reason.

Demographically, support for cannabis legalization was highest among those age 18 to 29 (70 percent), African Americans (60 percent), and Democrats (63 percent). Support was weakest among those age 65 and older (32 percent) and Republicans (39 percent).

Seventy-six percent of those surveyed oppose incarceration as a punishment for those found to have possessed personal use quantities of marijuana. Only 22 percent of respondents supported sentencing marijuana possession offenders to jail.

Fifty-four percent of those polled expressed concern that legalizing marijuana might lead to greater levels of underage pot use. (Forty-four percent said that it would not.) Overall, however, respondents did not appear to believe that such an outcome would pose the type of significant detrimental health risks presently associated with alcohol. As in other recent polls, respondents overwhelmingly say that using cannabis is far less harmful to health than is drinking alcohol. Sixty-nine percent of those polled said that alcohol “is more harmful to a person’s health” than is marijuana. Only 15 percent said that cannabis posed greater health risks. Sixty-three percent of respondents separately said that alcohol is “more harmful to society” than cannabis. Only 23 percent said that marijuana was more harmful.

The Pew poll possesses a margin on error of +/- 2.6 percent.

Recent national polls by Gallup and CNN similarly report majority support among Americans for legalizing and regulating the adult use of the plant.

Commenting on the poll, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Advocating for the regulation of cannabis for adults is not a fringe political opinion. It is the majority opinion among the public. Elected officials who continue to push for the status quo — the notion that cannabis ought to be criminalized and that the consumers of cannabis ought to be stigmatized and punished — are holding on to a fringe position that is increasingly out-of-step with the their constituents’ beliefs.”

Source: NORML - make a donation

  • Sarijuana

    We really need to work on educating those 22% who want us to go to jail for personal possession. They are clueless and hanging onto the old lies. While some will never let go, a good percentage will come around. They just don’t know or want to know their government lied to them. I am still floored when I meet people who have no clue what the Iran-Contra affair was.

    • Those 22% are ruled by fear. Fear of minority men. They’ll never admit it, but they think America would be a much better place if all the n*&%#@s were behind bars.

      • Sarijuana

        You are right, but I think the number is lower than 22% these days. Their ignorance prevails in all aspect of economy, education and politics in general. They never speak of the true nature of their hatred and rage, except behind closed doors and amongst themselves, and latch on to political points of view that coincide with their racism and ignorance.

    • wowFAD

      It’s lower than 22%. It all depends on how the question is phrased and structured. In this poll, 22% was the number of people responding “yes” to a yes/no question about jailing for personal possession. 76% said no, the rest were undecided. It was almost a false dichotomy.

      A poll that came out last year asked the question about personal possession differently, giving subjects multiple responses to pick from (jail, pay a fine, treatment, no punishment at all, not sure). Here were the results to THAT particular question:

      Send them to jail — *** 6% ***
      Rehab/Treatment — 20%
      Pay a fine — 32%
      Don’t punish at all — 35%
      Neither/both/undec — 6%

      We have to be sure we ask the right questions if we don’t want to be disappointed by the answers. For example, I was surprised that a specific result from the 2013 PPP poll was virtually ignored. The question asked about cannabis use as a MORAL issue. In 2006, 50% said it was morally wrong, 35% said it wasn’t a moral issue, and only 10% said cannabis use is morally acceptable. In just SEVEN short years, the 2013 responses were 32% morally wrong, *50%* say it isn’t a moral issue, and 12% morally acceptable. That’s a remarkable shift in attitudes.

      Someone once popped up trying to make us afraid of Project SAM, but he couldn’t give us any reason to be scared of them. He asked me why I’m *not* scared — polling like that is why.

      • Sarijuana

        It doesn’t matter how many they are, we need to educate, educate, educate. If someone seems curious…let it roll!

        • wowFAD

          Oh I agree, but we also should have the benefit of knowing that we’re doing it right, which the latest poll didn’t convey. 22% is lower than it used to be, but it’s not nearly as low as 6%. When I heard about that 6% last year, IMHO, that was one of the largest nails being hammered into the prohibition coffin. We shouldn’t let that number be downgraded by 16 points simply because we didn’t know the difference between the polling questions.

    • moses

      You said it right, how many people, just don’t want to admit they were wrong, and that they swallowed the whole cup of koolaid, eyes wide open. My mother in law said it best, I don’t care to know the truth I just know I’m right, there just has to be some thing wrong with it, She is so ignorant, and ignorance is stupidity. She also thinks Nixon was a good president. I don’t care what you show me on the internet. How many people think we have not been to the moon, or that the world is not flat

  • stellarvoyager

    Encouraging numbers, but the question now is how to turn these polling results into policy results.

  • Roger Turner

    encouraging the numbers mentioned in this article is the true way to go reach through their supporter into the ears of those in power