Stop us if you have heard this before: a record high number of Americans think pot should be legal.
That is the chief takeaway from the latest survey released Thursday by Gallup, which found that more than two-thirds of adults in the United States—or 68 percent—support the legalization of marijuana.
The major pollster said that it has “documented increasing support for legalizing marijuana over more than five decades, with particularly sharp increases occurring in the 2000s and 2010s.”
The majority support for legalization has been captured by Gallup since 2013, when more than 50 percent of Americans said they supported the policy for the first time.
The latest findings match Gallup’s poll from last year, which also found that 68 percent of American adults supported legalizing marijuana.
The 2020 poll, Gallup noted at the time, showed that “more likely now than at any point in the past five decades to support the legalization of marijuana in the U.S.”
Like last year’s poll, the latest survey found “solid majorities of U.S. adults in all major subgroups by gender, age, income and education support legalizing marijuana.”
“Substantive differences are seen, however, by political party and religion,” Gallup explained. “While most Democrats (83%) and political independents (71%) support legalization, Republicans are nearly evenly split on the question (50% in favor; 49% opposed). Weekly and semiregular attendees of religious services are split on the issue as well, while those who attend infrequently or never are broadly supportive of legalizing marijuana.”
The poll findings dovetail with what has been a flowering of legalization nationwide over the last decade, as changing attitudes have helped usher in marijuana reform.
More than a dozen states have now moved to legalize recreational pot use for adults, with voters in both liberal and conservative strongholds embracing the reform. Last year, voters in four states—New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota—passed ballot measures that legalized marijuana for recreational use.
As is often the case, the polling has clearly been an impetus for the policy.
Gallup Survey Matches Findings from Other Recent Polls
A poll released earlier this year from Quinnipiac University yielded similar findings to Gallup’s latest survey.
The Quinnipiac poll found about 70 percent of Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana, which was the highest number ever recorded in a national survey.
And while the legalization measures have thus far been implemented on the state and municipal level, there are mounting signs that the federal government may be ready to follow suit.
Earlier this year, Democrats in Congress introduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act of 2021, or “The MORE Act of 2021,” which would “decriminalize and deschedule cannabis…provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs…provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.”
In the spring, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York stressed that Democrats are ready to move forward with legalization, citing the success of legalization on the state level.
“In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I’m sure you ask, ‘Well what changed?’ Well, my thinking evolved. When a few of the early states—Oregon and Colorado—wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen,” Schumer said at the time. “The legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.”
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