Findings in a new Gallup survey indicate a growing shift in moral acceptance of marijuana among Americans.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans now consider using marijuana to be “morally acceptable,” according to a new report released last week by Gallup. The Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey reports that 65 percent of its respondents said they personally believe that smoking marijuana is a morally permissible activity, compared to 31 percent who said that the behavior is “morally wrong.”
For the survey, pollsters at Gallup asked a random sample of 1,024 Americans, aged 18 years and older, about their attitudes regarding 22 different behaviors and practices, including smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, divorce, birth control, gambling, and more. Alcohol and marijuana ranked near the top of the list of practices considered by Americans to be morally acceptable, just below birth control.
Gallup found religious beliefs to be a key determinant in views of smoking marijuana. Of highly religious Americans, classified as those who attend church on a weekly basis, less than 41 percent said they consider marijuana morally acceptable. Of those who seldom or never attend religious services, about 75 percent consider smoking marijuana to be okay.
Acceptance of marijuana use was also found to be higher among other key subgroups, including younger adults, ideological liberals, college graduates, and males, although Gallup notes that these differences appear to reflect differences in church attendance. Women, older adults, and conservatives, for example, are more likely to attend church.
While this latest survey from Gallup is the first time attitudes about the morality of marijuana were included and measured, the data aligns with the percentage of Americans that now favor marijuana legalization. The 64 percent of Americans who last October told Gallup that marijuana should be legal nearly matches the 65 percent in this survey who said they believe smoking marijuana to be morally acceptable.
While cannabis remains illegal under federal law, 29 states have passed laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity, with eight permitting recreational use by adults. Expanding legalization, the Gallup report suggests, has contributed to the growing acceptance of marijuana.
“Some states have recently legalized marijuana and many others are considering doing so, perhaps removing some of the stigma associated with the drug,” the Gallup report concludes. “But with roughly two-thirds of the public saying marijuana use is morally acceptable, it seems there will not be sufficient opposition to thwart attempts to make it legal.”
Expanding Marijuana Legalization
While support for marijuana legalization is now at an all-time high among voters, Democrat and Republican lawmakers in general have historically been slow to pursue policy changes. Recent developments, however, suggest that’s starting to change.
Just recently, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner unveiled legislation that would fully protect state-legal marijuana programs by amending the federal Controlled Substances Act. Donald Trump has indicated he would support the legislation.
Earlier this year, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced a federal bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and allow states to legalize the substance without worry of federal interference.