For the first time since Gallup began keeping count, 50 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. That’s according to its newest poll, released Monday, which also shows that 46 percent still believe the drug should be illegal.
Nonetheless, that’s a far cry from the 1970 numbers, in which only 12 percent of Americans supported legalization.
And bear in mind, we’re not talking about medical marijuana here: this is outright legalization. A previous Gallup poll found greater strength — 70 percent in favor — for providing people pot whose pain and symptoms it could help relieve.
Gallup also broke down its data:
Support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age, ranging from 62% approval among those 18 to 29 down to 31% among those 65 and older. Liberals are twice as likely as conservatives to favor legalizing marijuana. And Democrats and independents are more likely to be in favor than are Republicans.
More men than women support legalizing the drug. Those in the West and Midwest are more likely to favor it than those in the South.
Interestingly, the numbers of pot legalization proponents have really gone up, doubling in the past 15 years. In 1995, about one in four people was in favor of it being legal. Things really caught fire in 2009. These days, even Washington lawmakers have entertained the possibility of legalizing it.
I’m curious what the sweeping approvals of medical marijuana laws around the country has done to expose the nation to the drug (some 16 states now have laws on the books). My curiosity is less about the notion there’s more legal marijuana in the country, and more about the idea that more people know someone who’s found marijuana effective in curbing their pain.
Rather than debate the age-old question of legalization, my inquiry to you, readers is this: do you believe the medical marijuana movement has advanced the wider legalization movement? Why or why not?