Americans Who Oppose Cannabis Legalization Are the Minority

A new nationwide poll from Pew Research Center confirms what we already know– Americans widely support cannabis policy change.

A recent poll from the Pew Research Center confirms what most Americans already know: The majority of people living in the United States favor marijuana legalization and that trend is solid.

Pew’s new poll indicates the number of people who favor legalization has doubled from nearly 20 years ago (2000) when 31 percent of adults supported cannabis legalization. Today, 67 percent of Americans would prefer recreational and medical use marijuana to be legal, while another 32 percent favor medical marijuana legalization only.

The opposition has continued to fall over the last decade. In 2010, 52 percent of U.S. adults opposed the use of cannabis. Today it’s 32 percent.

U.S. Marijuana poll

Pew data shows that fewer than one-in-ten (8 percent) prefer to keep cannabis completely illegal under all circumstances.

Who Does Not Support Cannabis Legalization?

Republicans continue to be the least supportive of the political parties when it comes to cannabis reform. However, according to the Pew report, the majority (55 percent) are in favor of cannabis legalization, while 44 percent oppose it. Not surprisingly, nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and “Democratic-leaning independents” (78 percent) favor marijuana legalization.

Age also appears to play a significant role in support or opposition to cannabis reform. The Pew reports show the least supportive generation of Americans were born between 1928-1945, known as the “Silent Generation.” In that group, only 35 percent endorse legalizing marijuana, while the majority (64 percent) are opposed.

Only 22 percent of millennials (born 1981-1997) oppose cannabis legalization. Baby boomers (1946-1964) and those from Gen. X (1965-1980) reported almost the same rate of opposition. Baby boomers oppose making cannabis legal at 35 percent, while Gen. X respondents opposed at 34 percent.

Partisan Gap Marijuana Legalization

Data from the 2019 Pew report was gathered via an online survey of nearly 10,000 Americans. The surveys were conducted Sept. 3-15. To take a closer look at the Pew Research poll results, here.

More Public Opinion Polls

A Gallup poll conducted in October found similar results to the latest Pew report. The annual Gallup poll showed 66 percent of Americans endorse cannabis legalization. Gallup’s poll the year prior also showed support among Americans at 66 percent, reflecting consistent support for cannabis reform.

A separate October poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, a non-partisan research and public policy institute, found an estimated 67 percent Americans support cannabis legalization for recreational purposes.

Another national poll conducted in March, the Quinnipiac University Poll, released results indicating 6 out of 10 Americans are in favor of the U.S. legalizing cannabis. Since 2012 when 51 percent of Quinnipiac survey respondents favored legalization, there has been growing support for legal cannabis.

The poll data also indicated Americans favor clearing records of past cannabis convictions. According to the report, 63 percent of American voters support expunging criminal records for cannabis possession.

While the federal government has been relatively slow to act, voters have taken the issue into their own hands by creating initiatives driving states to change cannabis laws. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis.

A total of 33 states, plus D.C, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Find out where cannabis is legal by viewing our Where Is Marijuana Legal? page.

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