Mason-Dixon Polling and Smart Approach to Marijuana, a well-known anti-marijuana group, have released the findings of a new poll showing Americans are highly dissatisfied with current federal marijuana law.
By eliminating the Cole Memo, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has re-ignited a war between patients, state officials, the marijuana industry, and federal authorities. But based on public sentiment, his timing may be a few decades late.
A new poll released by Mason-Dixon Polling and Smart Approach to Marijuana (SAM) shows that the public overwhelmingly does not support federal marijuana laws. Instead of a simple yes or no survey, this poll provided respondents with several choices. The 1000 participants were asked if they support keeping the current policy (with marijuana remaining Schedule I substance and not permitting medicinal or recreational use), legalizing medical marijuana, decriminalizing and reducing penalties for possession, and legalizing recreational use and commercial production.
Only 16 percent of respondents wanted to keep federal policy on marijuana the same. Approximately 49 percent supported full legalization with 29 percent backing medical use. Five percent of respondents supported decriminalization and one percent were not sure.
This shows that a vast majority, about 83 percent, support major federal changes in the form of either full legalization, approving medicinal use, or reducing criminal penalties for possession of marijuana.
Even Republicans, who historically have been staunch advocates against legalization, are not on board with continuing the federal battle against marijuana. Only 25 percent of GOP respondents wanted federal marijuana policy to remain the same. In fact, 36 percent supported legalizing medicinal use and the same number supported full legalization. Two percent of Republican respondents supported decriminalization. In total, even 74 percent of Republicans were in favor of significant marijuana reform.
Other polls have shown even higher support for legalizing recreational marijuana use. A recent Gallop poll found that 64 percent of Americans supported the idea.
SAM says their poll shows that Americans are much more divided on legalization than other biased polls. Kevin Sabet, President of SAM, has long argued that polls offering a simple yes or no option skews the results toward more support for legalization.
“These results clearly indicate the oft-touted vast public support for marijuana legalization has a shakier foundation than marijuana investors would have you believe,” Kevin Sabet, president of SAM, said in a statement. “This should give pause to politicians and marijuana financiers alike.”
While it is true the Mason-Dixon/SAM poll found slightly fewer people supporting full legalization when provided a list of alternative choices, the argument does not seem to carry water. Despite Sabet’s claim that politicians and investors should be wary of the public sentiment on legalization, even the poll he is associated with showed that marijuana reform is actually a rare consensus issue for Americans. There are not many other social issues that 83 percent of Americans agree on.