A Record High 64% of Americans Say Cannabis Should be Legal

A Record High 64% of Americans Say Cannabis Should be Legal

A Record High 64% of Americans Say Cannabis Should be Legal

The rate of support among Americans has grown tremendously since 1969, when the polling firm first asked about legalizing marijuana.

A majority of Americans have consistently supported legalizing marijuana since 2013. But a new Gallup poll did reveal a somewhat surprising demographic supports marijuana legalization more than ever: Republicans.

Gallup says opposition has dropped to an all-time low at 34%.

Seventy-two percent of Democrats told pollsters this month they support legalizing marijuana, up from 67 percent in 2016, according to the results published Wednesday. Support has steadily increased in recent years, with the latest figure up four percentage points over last year, and up 14 percentage points from 2011.

"It makes sense that support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing", said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.

During that same period of time we've seen a growing number of states changing their laws to reflect the changes in public opinion and to reflect the reality that increasing evidence has shown that marijuana is not almost as harmful as other illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin, that contrary to popular myth it is not physically addictive, and that it is in many respect less harmful than legal substances such as alcohol and nicotine. Gallup attributes the growing consensus to "efforts to legalize marijuana at the state level" and the success that followed.

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Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but the drug has been legalized by eight states and the District of Columbia.

Of course, we're all ignoring the more interesting point here - that, between 2016 and 2017, Republicans polled by Gallup on legalizing marijuana jumped "up nine percentage points". In 2010 Democrats were nearly twice as likely as Republicans to favor legalization. "On both issues, about a quarter supported legalization in the late 1990s, and today 64% favor each", Gallup writes in its analysis of the poll.

Legal marijuana now has equal support to gay marriage among Americans, Gallup notes. But if more and more Republican voters begin to support pro-marijuana candidates during the primaries, they could begin to shift marijuana policies throughout the United States. In the case of marriage equality, numerous changes in the law came through court rulings that found the laws against same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional and it was ultimately a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.

The federal government considers marijuana a Schedule 1 substance with no known medical benefits, but the Trump administration has refrained so far from interfering in states with medical and recreational marijuana laws in place.

Activists from within the marijuana-legalization community celebrated the poll results.

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