Majority of U.S. Mayors Support Marijuana Legalization, Survey Shows

The survey asked 110 sitting U.S. mayors from cities in 37 states about their stance on legalizing marijuana.

A slight majority of the current mayors across the United States are in favor of legislation that would legalize marijuana, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Boston University.

In Boston University’s Menino Survey of Mayors for 2018, 110 mayors from cities across 37 states were asked about their views related to marijuana. Fifty-three percent of mayors in the survey said they were in support of marijuana sales in their cities specifically. Only 35 percent were opposed to the idea.

“Many mayors suggested their views on marijuana were less about philosophy or values and more about practical challenges related to policy implementation,” reads a summary of the survey’s key findings.

The report revealed a stark divide by political party. Sixty-two percent of Democratic mayors said they supported legalizing marijuana in their cities, with only 22 percent against ending cannabis prohibition. Of Republican mayors, however, 67 percent said they are opposed to marijuana being legalized and sold in their city, compared to 25 percent who were in support.

merino survey marijuana

The Menino Survey was initiated in 2014 by the Boston University Initiative on Cities to explore mayoral views on a range of issues. The survey polls mayors of U.S. cities with populations over 75,000.

Polls from prior years show federal marijuana legislation as one issue that mayors were most interested in seeing addressed.

Last year’s findings showed funding was among the major issues of concern for city leaders. Roughly 52 percent of mayors surveyed last year felt they only had sufficient funds to cover half of their respective city’s infrastructure needs for the next five years. Tax revenue may be one reason that a majority of mayors now support marijuana legalization.

Mayors Fighting for Cannabis Reform

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan organization representing cities with populations of 30,000 or more, for years has called for the federal descheduling of cannabis and to respect state and municipality marijuana laws.

At last year’s U.S. Conferences of Mayors (USCM), seven mayors of U.S. cities in states with legal recreational marijuana announced the formation of a coalition aimed at pushing for federal marijuana policy reform.

The coalition has already approved a resolution requesting the U.S. government remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and extend legal access to U.S. veterans. They intend to also develop federal policy recommendations related to banking services for marijuana-related businesses.

Marijuana has been illegal under federal law since the passing of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, and classified as a Schedule I substance. Beginning with California in 1996, 32 U.S. states have since passed their own cannabis policies permitting its use in some form.

With changing public perceptions and lawmakers increasingly embracing adult use and medical marijuana use, more states are expected to legalize cannabis this year. At the federal level, more cannabis reform bills were introduced in the 115th Congress than ever before, prompting some industry experts to believe descheduling of marijuana could happen this year or next.

Latest Marijuana Reform Efforts

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Learn more about today’s patchwork of cannabis laws across the U.S. through our education page.