Increasingly, the stigma around cannabis appears to be disappearing. Look no further than what the Presidential candidates and people in the tech world have had to say. At best, they want it legalized; at worse, they don’t have much of an opinion. But what about the average American?
There are a number of different polls to look at, and they all indicate the same thing: that the American people are increasingly changing their attitudes toward legal cannabis, even if a still significant number aren’t so quick to want things to change.
A record number – 60% want cannabis legal
A survey conducted by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, released in March, found that for the first time in any poll, over 60 percent of respondents said that they were in favor of cannabis being legal. Only 39 percent said that it should remain illegal.
Not only that, but a full third of the 1,042 adults surveyed said that it should be legal “with no restrictions.” Another 43 percent said that there should be limits on how much you can buy, and 24 percent still only want it legal for medicinal purposes, not recreational.
When asked the same question about legalizing other drugs, like cocaine or heroin, the number dropped to a mere 7 percent.
The number founded in the AP report was up from 58 percent of people who said that they supported cannabis legalization in a Gallup poll released in October of 2015. Until then, that had been the highest support ever seen for cannabis use.
Gallup had found that a whopping 71 percent among those aged 18 to 34, up from 44 percent in 2000, approved of legalization. The number was still over 50 percent for 35 to 49 year olds and for those aged 50 to 64, who both saw similarly large jumps in the same time period.
The 65 years old and above crowd was not so supportive, as 35 percent supported legal cannabis, though that was up from 17 percent in 2000.
Support is growing
In its poll, Gallup included a graphic to show just how quickly support for cannabis legalization has been jumping, especially over the last decade and a half.
Back in 1969, even in the midst of the counter culture revolution, support for legal cannabis was all the way down at 12 percent. By 1977, the number had more than doubled, but still remained at 28 percent.
Support actually began to decrease during the late 70s and the 1980s and 90s, when the War on Drugs was in full swing, and the number really only began a real swing upwards in the late 90s, so that the number who supported legalization was 30 percent by 2000.
Since then, it’s been almost nothing but up. By 2009, support was at 44 percent. It hit 50 percent in 2011, and has stayed above that nearly ever since.
In a Quinnipiac University poll, released in early June, most Americans support the legalization of cannabis. But the more interesting statistics to look at is how political parties view cannabis. Apparently, there’s a real divide when it comes to party affiliation (but isn’t there always?).
Only 36 percent of Republicans support legalization, while 62 percent do not. For those in the Democratic camp, the numbers are reversed, with 65 percent supporting, and only 30 percent against. Like in most elections, those self-described Independents are what sway opinion, with their numbers aligning almost perfectly with Democrats on the issue.
There’s also a gender divide, with 60 percent of men supporting, but women being much more split on the issue, 48 percent in favor and 46 not in favor.
When it comes to education, there’s actually almost no different between college educated and non-college educated people. Both are in favor by a slim margin, 53 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
There’s also no split along racial lines: 53 percent of white people support legalization, 52 percent of African-Americans and 56 percent of Hispanics.