- A record 61% of Americans say weed should be legalised, according to the respected General Social Survey.
- Support has grown across all age groups, US regions, and political affiliations.
- Growing support has seen all 2020 presidential candidates backing legalization efforts.
A record 61% of Americans say pot should be legalised, according to the respected General Social Survey.
The poll, which has tracked support for legal marijuana since 1973, found that approval reached an all-time high across all age groups, US regions, and political affiliations in 2018.
The numbers reflect how attitudes toward the drug are shifting across the nation. While the majority of Americans want the legalization of cannabis now, only 16% did in 1987 and 1990, the years with the joint-lowest support.
Consumption has also become more accepted across the US. Ten states, including California, Colorado, Michigan, have legalised the use of recreational marijuana, and 33 states allow its medical use.
Though support grew across all age brackets, it remains the highest among 18- to 34-year-olds, the survey found. More than 70% of young Americans say they want pot to be legal, while only 42% of interviewees over 65 say the same.
Survey takers in the Midwest are most in favour, at 68%. While support was lowest in the South, more than half of respondents there still said marijuana should be legalised.
On the political spectrum, Democrats (69%) and independents (66%) were largely in favour of legalizing weed. Only 42% of Republicans agreed, but support among them has been growing steadily over the years. In 2012, only a third of Republican voters wanted cannabis to be legal.
The federal government began banning the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant about 80 years ago. Although some states have legalised it, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level.
People who oppose marijuana argue that it can be easily misused. But campaigners say that legalization is the only way to cut off revenue from criminal organisations that profit from selling a relatively safe plant.
Now growing public support has all 2020 presidential candidates backing different efforts to legalise marijuana – whether they are Democrats or Republicans.
Sen. Corey Booker has made legalization a centrepiece of his campaign, Elizabeth Warren is pushing to protect the pot industry, and President Donald Trump has said states should have the right to legalise pot if they want.
John Lapp, a Democratic national campaign strategist, told The Boston Globe that the political evolution has been remarkable.
“Marijuana legalization, if you look back, was really something for fringe candidates. It’s just not very controversial at all now,” he said.
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