A new poll shows that a majority of American adults are in favor of marijuana legalization.
Support for the legalization of marijuana in the United States is at an all-time high, according to a new poll from Pew Research Center. According to the survey of 1,201 participants, 57 percent of U.S. adults believe marijuana should be made legal, compared to 37 percent who are opposed to legalization.
The poll’s results indicate a significant shift in social attitudes regarding cannabis over the past 10 years. Last year’s Pew Research Center poll showed 53 percent support for legalization nationally, and just 32 percent of Americans were in favor of legalization in a Pew poll conducted a decade ago.
The shift in public opinion is likely related to the expansion of medical and recreational marijuana legalization over the past 10 years. Fifteen U.S. states and Washington D.C. passed medicinal cannabis laws since 2006, bringing the nation’s total of medical marijuana states to 25. Since 2012, four states — Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska – have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. A majority of Americans feel that prohibition has proven to be ineffective. Today, more than 86 percent of Americans live in a state with some level of legalized marijuana, and this November, nine states will decide on measures to establish or expand legal marijuana use.
Additionally, research over recent years has established cannabis as therapeutically beneficial in the treatment of conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Crohn’s disease, and in managing symptoms like pain, nausea, seizures, spasms, and sleep problems. As groups of doctors and organizations like the American Nurses Association publicly acknowledge cannabis’s medicinal properties, the social stigma surrounding the substance continues to diminish. Nearly 33 million American adults, or 1 in 8, currently use marijuana.
The latest Pew poll found that adults aged 18 to 35 are most heavily driving the shift toward support for legalization, with 71 percent in favor of legalizing the substance. Support for legalization was shown to decline with age, with 57 percent of adults aged 36 to 51, 56 percent of those aged 52 to 70, and 33 percent of Americans aged 71 to 88, saying they were in favor of loosening recreational cannabis laws.
Democrats favored legalization by more than two-to-one compared to Republicans, 66 percent to 30 percent. Sixty percent of men were found to support legalization, compared to 55 percent of women. Both black and white Americans supported legalization at 59 percent, while 49 percent of Hispanics responded in favor.
Since 1969, Pew Research Center has examined public support for marijuana legalization, asking participants, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” You can see the results of each of their studies over the years here.
The latest Pew Research Center survey was conducted between August 23 and September 2. A similar survey conducted this summer by Quinnipiac University gathered similar results, with 54 percent of U.S. registered voters supporting legalization of adult use marijuana.