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CBS News Poll: Majority Of Americans Back Marijuana Legalization

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legalize marijuana cannabis safe safetyBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

The majority of Americans say that marijuana is safer than alcohol and believe that its use should be legal, according to nationwide polling data compiled by CBS News.

Fifty-three percent of respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question, “Should marijuana use be legal?” That is the highest level of support ever recorded by CBS pollsters since they began posing the question in 1979. Forty-three percent of respondents opposed legalization.

Males, younger voters, and Democrats were most likely to support marijuana’s legalization. Seventy-four percent of those who acknowledged having tried marijuana said that the plant ought to be legalized, compared to just 35 percent who have never used it.

The majority of respondents (51 percent) agreed that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol. Only 12 percent of respondents said they believed that marijuana was more harmful than booze, while 28 percent said that both substances were equally harmful.

Forty-three percent of respondents acknowledged having consumed marijuana, an increase of nine percent since 1997. Seventy-five percent of respondents said that it would not matter to them if a Presidential candidate admitted having tried it.

On the question of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, 84 percent of respondents supported allowing physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to their patients.

The CBS News poll is the latest in a series of national surveys showing majority support for legalizing and regulating marijuana.

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31 Comments

  1. Who’s state legalization for? The unemployed? If you have a job and you’re randomly tested, you’re out of luck because your employer will always pull the card that it’s illegal at the federal level. We need to fight for federal legalization and demand the drug testing methods be changed. Testing someone for what they did three weeks ago is bullshit. Employers should not have any say so as to what you do when you are off the clock. Job performance is just that, on the job. We need to demand fair testing criteria that proves impairment, not weekend recreational activities. And foremost, we need to demand our federal government listens to and respects us before we’ve got to hit the restart button in this country!

  2. The poll this post is about is a straight legalization poll. So are the examples I gave. In fact, that’s why I gave them. You have mucked this up with polls about something else. That’s not splitting hairs, that’s staying on topic. Try it some time.

  3. Your first post just mentioned legalization and did not specify a hair to split which you seem to have an affinity for. There are different flavors of legalization. You did not select a specific one. Stop tripping on your own feet and you will be able to walk much better.

  4. Apples and oranges: ” legalizing marijuana in the privacy of one’s home received huge support’

    Big difference between “legal in your home” and just plain legal, or “sold like alcohol.”

    If we want to try to spot trends in GOP support for legalization, we have to look at polls that consistently asked the same question.

    So, from the poll you cited, if you go get the cross tabs, you’ll see this question:

    1. Legalize marijuana
    Do you think the use of marijuana should be legalized?

    Democrats: 59%
    Independents: 52%
    Republicans: 31%

    Wow. 31%.

    I’ll pass on smoking that in my pipe, thanks.

  5. I was struck too by the strong support for letting people smoke in a private residence legally. I’d like to see more polls on that specific question, and if confirmed by other polls, the reform community should be aggressive in making people aware of this overwhelming level of support (by my definition of overwhelming) for legalizing private use of weed. Disputes about details of legalizing shouldn’t be allowed to obscure this.

  6. I had the same reaction as you, 45% support among Republicans is the highest I’ve ever seen. Hope it’s more than just 1 poll.

  7. Lawrence Goodwin on

    No additional laws need to be passed. Repealing this prohibition is an incredibly simple amendment to existing law: Erasing the farcical word “marihuana” in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. That is what empowers the entire prohibition of growing cannabis plants at the federal, state and local levels–and I submit there is no better example of modern tyranny in America than the relentless campaign to enforce “marihuana” law.

  8. The people who think the two substances are equally dangerous or that weed is more dangerous don’t know much about weed. It’s our job to educate them or isolate them by making it obvious that they’re hopelessly prejudiced against weed.

  9. we’re just the ones who elect our “representatives” and they never seem to “represent” me for some reason.

  10. Actually, Actually, Actually.
    Put this in your pipe and smoke it…. A poll released (Aug 7, 2014) by the Huffington Post showed that one detail gets a lot of support from voters. Support for legalizing marijuana in the privacy of one’s home received huge support: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/07/legal-marijuana-poll_n_5659602.html

    Americans are even more likely to support making it legal for a person to use marijuana in their own home. Sixty-six percent of Americans said that it should be legal to smoke pot in a private residence, including 72 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents. “Even Republicans tended to say that smoking marijuana in a private residence should be legal, by a margin of 50 percent to 39 percent”.

  11. Presidents can’t make pot legal. They can reschedule. But congress makes laws, which the President can sign, and legalization would have to be done via legislation.

  12. Doesn’t look like a Democrat or republican president is gonna make pot federally legal anytime soon.its unfortunate considering the majority of Americans are in favor of legalization.rand paul may have a little better views but if he’s voted in as a republican he probably won’t do much because he’ll afraid to offend the other pig headed majority in power.if the states can keep passing legalization laws we may see some progress, but a president has to stop these federal raids, and move towards federal legalization. i don’t think you’ll see much happen unless an independent or libertarian is voted into the office of president.

  13. These polls although improving they are still mind boggling.people saying that alcohol is less dangerous than pot.these people are clearly misinformed by this bogus government, who wants us to believe the lies.the lies don’t stop at marijuana, they include all other illegal drugs too.the real statistics show that more people die from alcohol, tobacco,And prescription drugs combined than “illegal drugs,but no one wants to talk about that because then they couldn’t keep us down and abuse their power with this bogus drug war.

  14. Actually, other polls have pointed that out already so there Still isn’t anything new.

  15. It’s petrifying that 40% of people polled thought cannabis was just as harmful, or more harmful, than alcohol. 12% said cannabis was more harmful while 28% said equally harmful.

    As I sit here I don’t even know how to put that stupidity in to words.

  16. AntiIgnorant on

    Right, and the lobbying from for-profit prisons and pharmaceuticals will have to be equaled by pro-cannabis before real political traction will ever truly take hold.

  17. As long as it remains a Schedule I drug, there really isn’t any rational debate to be had. It’s misclassified which prevents it even being discussed in an open manner.

  18. BongRipsForJesus on

    …And Twenty-Five percent of respondents said they would not vote for a President who has not tried it.

  19. Actually, this poll shows more Republicans for legalization than other polls (this was my point that Denny missed in the comment below). Compare this to the fact that Fox News’ viewers are dying off and their ratings are tanking, and it looks like the old Republicans who hate marijuana are dying off at a pretty rapid clip now.

  20. ” they had total control of the government for the first two years Obama was in office–house, senate and white house”

    I keep telling you you’re either wrong, or lying.

    So, pay close attention this time so you can save yourself further embarassment over this:

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/fleeting-illusory-supermajority?lite=

    > In January 2009, there were 56 Senate Democrats and two independents who caucused with Democrats. This combined total of 58 included Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), whose health was failing and was unable to serve. As a practical matter, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, the Senate Democratic caucus had 57 members on the floor for day-to-day legislating.

    > In April 2009, Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter switched parties. This meant there were 57 Democrats, and two independents who caucused with Democrats, for a caucus of 59. But with Kennedy ailing, there were still “only” 58 Democratic caucus members in the chamber.

    > In May 2009, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) was hospitalized, bringing the number of Senate Dems in the chamber down to 57.

    > In July 2009, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was finally seated after a lengthy recount/legal fight. At that point, the Democratic caucus reached 60, but two of its members, Kennedy and Byrd, were unavailable for votes.

    > In August 2009, Kennedy died, and Democratic caucus again stood at 59.

    > In September 2009, Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Mass.) filled Kennedy’s vacancy, bringing the caucus back to 60, though Byrd’s health continued to deteriorate.

    > In January 2010, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) replaced Kirk, bringing the Democratic caucus back to 59 again.

    > In June 2010, Byrd died, and the Democratic caucus fell to 58, where it stood until the midterms. [Update: Jonathan Bernstein reminds me that Byrd’s replacement was a Dem. He’s right, though this doesn’t change the larger point.]

    Got that, Denny? You sure? Maybe you should read it again…

    The Democrats DID NOT HAVE ” total control of the government for the first two years Obama was in office”

    BUT WAIT! There’s more!

    “Obama has made more executive orders than any president in history”

    You say these things like you’re absolutely sure of them. This is a problem for you, because this one is also a lie.

    So, either you’re a liar, or just stupid.

    I’ve attached this chart, from 538, that proves it:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/every-presidents-executive-actions-in-one-chart/

    As for rescheduling, I’ve offered a $50 bet that marijuana will be rescheduled by the time Obama leaves office. Loser pays winner’s charity. So far, I’ve had no takers.

    So, put up or shut up, Denny.

  21. Same goes for the Democrats; they had total control of the government for the first two years Obama was in office–house, senate and white house.
    If they really meant what they promised on the campaign trail it would have happened during that time, but they did nothing, as usual.
    Obama has made more executive orders than any president in history, yet he hasn’t bothered to use that authority and remove it from Schedule 1 and place it in schedule 2. His banter has proven to mean nothing.

  22. These polls keep saying the same thing regardless of who does the poll. SSDD No NEW news just a rehash.

  23. Lawrence Goodwin on

    These polls mean nothing as long as the ridiculous word “marihuana” remains in Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act. It does not at all reflect reality on the ground. The placement of that word has empowered the entire Anti-Marihuana Tyranny to destroy millions of American lives for 44 years and counting. Just this week, in the Dark Ages of upstate New York, only days after the airing of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s third installment of the “Weed” series and all the 4/20 celebrations, there were at least two local media reports of young men getting busted for growing lots of cannabis plants at home. Great job ripping apart families, New York State Police and District Attorneys! Keep devoting all that precious time and piles of taxpayer dollars conducting surveillance, arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning otherwise decent people. Your endless and aggressive hunts for nonviolent cannabis growers–and totally irrational fear of the plants’ flowers–will soon run the United States of America straight into oblivion.

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