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Support for Marijuana Legalization in the U.S. at a Record High

Nationwide support for marijuana legalization is now at its highest peak after steadily climbing since 1995, according to a history of Gallup polls.

A new Gallup poll shows that support for legalizing marijuana in the United States is at its highest level in history. The survey found that 60 percent of American adults are in favor of making marijuana use legal, which is the highest level of support in the 47 years that Gallup has been conducting the poll. The previous high was 58 percent in both 2013 and 2015.

Favor for legalizing marijuana was found to have increased among most subgroups. Seventy-seven percent of adults aged 18 to 34 favor legalization, up from 44 percent from more than a decade ago. While just 44 percent of adults aged 55 years and older responded in favor of legalization in this latest poll, the level of support is up 16 points since 2005.

Independent and Democrat voters were found to more strongly support legalization at 70 percent and 67 percent, respectively. Forty-two percent of Republicans now support the idea: a level of support from the party that is double what it was more than a decade ago.

Gallup began asking Americans on support for marijuana legalization in 1969. That year, just 12 percent of Americans favored legalization. Support hit 28 percent in the late 1970s before dipping again to the 25 percent range in the 1980s, which Gallup suggests is due to the “Just Say No” drugs campaign. Support held steady through 1995 before starting a steady climb. Support for legalization reached a majority for the first time in 2013, shortly after Washington and Colorado began the first states to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes.

marijuana legalization measures

Recreational marijuana is currently legal in the District of Columbia and in four states — ColoradoOregonWashington and Alaska. Five states will vote on adult use measures this November.

“As a result, the percentage of Americans living in states where pot use is legal could rise from the current 5% to as much as 25% if all of these ballot measures pass,” the Gallup report reads.

Gallup suggests that legalization will continue to expand significantly if it becomes legal in California later this year, “because the “Golden State” often sets political trends for the rest of the U.S.” California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Since then 24 additional states have passed medicinal cannabis laws. A recent poll shows that the state’s recreational marijuana measure has a strong chance of passing, with 63.8 percent of California voters in support of legalization.

The Gallup poll surveyed a random sample of 1,017 adults and was conducted over the telephone between October 5 and 9. All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia were represented in the survey.

Several recent polls have demonstrated similar shifting nationwide attitudes toward marijuana. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted earlier this year found support for legalization among registered voters in the U.S. to be at 54 percent. A separate Gallup survey from last month found that nearly 33 million (1 in 8) adults in the U.S. currently use marijuana.

Learn more about the current cannabis laws throughout the U.S. by visiting our education page. Read more about the states that will be voting on recreational and medical marijuana initiatives this November here.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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