Approximately two-thirds of Americans support legalizing marijuana use.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions may want to shut down the marijuana industry, but apparently linking it to violence or claiming that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” is not making a convincing enough case for the American people.
A new Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana. This represents the highest support Gallup has recorded since it began polling on the issue 48 years ago.
“The trajectory of Americans’ views on marijuana is similar to that of their views on same-sex marriage over the past couple of decades,” Gallup said in its analysis of the data. “On both issues, about a quarter supported legalization in the late 1990s, and today 64% favor each.”
Support for marijuana legalization has been rising steadily over the years so it’s not all that surprising to some that numbers have reached this level. But one surprise from the survey relates to Sessions’ own political party. Gallup found that 51 percent of Republicans questioned support marijuana legalization. Sessions could have an uphill battle in shoring up support for his anti-marijuana crusade if he cannot even count on his own party. The study also revealed that 72 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents support legalization.
“It makes sense that support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing,” Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement. “Americans are tired of wasting resources arresting hundreds of thousands of individuals every year for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. In the five years since the first states made marijuana legal for adults, it has become increasingly clear that — unlike prohibition — regulation works. Adult-use marijuana laws create jobs, generate tax revenue, and protect consumers while taking the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals.”
While estimates vary, it seems safe to say that marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year. As we wrestle with whether or not to pay for healthcare, put caps on 401ks, and how to address decades of stagnant wages, marijuana prosecution may no longer be palpable for most Americans.
Americans could also be taking note of states like Colorado and Washington. Predictions of widespread social demise by the anti-marijuana boogeymen have not proven out. Instead of spending millions on locking up individuals for low-level possession, states are now collecting millions in marijuana tax revenues that are being used to fund schools and other social programs. And last time we checked, the fabric of society still remains intact, despite 8 states legalizing recreational marijuana and 29 states approving medicinal use.