CBS Polls Finds Majority Of Western Voters, Californians, Back Legalization

[Update: A version of this post is now live online at The’s Congress blog. Please take a moment to leave some feedback for your members of Congress about the rising popularity of marijuana legalization by going here. PS: And thanks to all of you who helped make my 4/20 post the most read, most e-mailed, and most discussed story on The Hill’s Congress blog!]

A majority of west coast voters, and Californians specifically, believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal, according to the results of a pair of polls conducted on behalf of CBS News.

Fifty-six percent of Californians believe that “the state of California (should) legalize the use of marijuana,” according to a SurveyUSA poll of 500 adults conducted for CBS. The survey results come less than a month after state election officials certified the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 for the November ballot.

The measure would allow adults 21 years or older to possess, share or transport up to one ounce of cannabis for personal consumption, and/or cultivate the plant in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence. It would also permit local governments the option to authorize the retail sale of marijuana and/or commercial cultivation of cannabis to adults and to impose taxes on such sales. Personal marijuana cultivation or not-for-profit sales of marijuana would not be taxed under the measure, nor would it amend any aspect of the California Health and Safety code pertaining to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Among poll respondents, support for the proposal was strongest among males (65 percent), ‘liberals’ (77 percent), and those between the ages of 18 and 34 (74 percent). Support was weakest among self-identified ‘conservatives’ (39 percent) and those 65 years of age or older (39 percent).

In a separate national CBS poll of 858 adults, 55 percent of respondents residing in the west coast said that they back legalization, and only 41 percent oppose the idea.

Nationwide, the poll reported that 44 percent of Americans favor legalizing the use of cannabis, and 51 percent oppose it. Among respondents in the northeast, 44 percent said that they back legalization, versus 40 percent in the south and only 36 percent in the midwest.

A majority of those Americans under age 35 said that they support legalization. Those respondents over age 65 expressed the strongest opposition to legalization (61 percent).

A previous poll by Zogby International reported that 58 percent of west coast voters believe that cannabis should be “taxed and legally regulated like alcohol and cigarettes.”

In December, a national poll of 1,004 likely voters by Angus Reid reported for the first time that just over half of all Americans endorse marijuana legalization.

By contrast, a separate poll published this week by the Associated Press and CNBC reported that 55 percent of Americans opposed the “complete legalization of the use of marijuana for any purpose.” However, 56 percent of respondents also stated that they believed that “the regulations on marijuana (should) be the same … or less strict … (than) those for alcohol.”

50 thoughts

  1. I am 54 and I am all for legalization. I live in Texas. I didn’t get to vote in the poll. Here is why I think it should be legal.

    1 For the income it will generate.
    2 Many people will go from Alchol to pot which means less violence.
    3 I won’t have to buy it from a drug cartel and give them 450.00 an oz of white widow that puts me in a down mood. I tried t return it but no way.

  2. No one polled me. I am from the midwest, over 40, usually vote along conservative lines and I am 100% for total legalization. Better than 60% of the people I know feel the same way. It simply makes no sense for cannabis to be against the law while a poison like alchol is legal! I say in 2012 put it on the national ballot and let the will of the people decide.

    [Paul Armentano responds: There is no single issue, national ballot, and only half of states allow for ballot initiatives (like California). The closest thing America has to a ‘national ballot’ are elections; vote for state, local, and federal candidates who support marijuana law reform because this battle can only ultimately be won legislatively.]

  3. Couldn’t agree more. Time to stop the Federal stupidity and get them out of our way.

  4. how many families and innocent people are killed,mainded from alcohol and how many bars and restaurant will serve you many drinks and watch you drive out of there buisnesses super there any medical benefits from booze

  5. Now, if only we can get the conservatives on board… i really don’t understand why it is so hard, especially in the name of being fiscally conservative… why wage a war that can’t be won and has already spent the taxpayers billions if not trillions of our money in the name of some pseudo-moral ideal… people who wanna smoke, will smoke, regardless of legality… i for one am all for taxing the hell out of it… granted i’d be one of the few that will grow my own…

    Initiative and referendum is what we can do.

    The issue of [initiative and referendum] most likely crawls right up politician’s asses – because – it allows voters to [bypass] the legislature and take direct action on important matters. So! to those who ask…”What can we do?” Initiative and referendum is the answer you’re seeking. It also lets your elected representatives know that [you care]. However! you’ve got to vote, otherwise you’re chasing the wind.

    Experience has shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Genesists do not subscribe to this experience. We are emphatic about relinquishing our religious rights to evil. We do not subscribe to putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

  7. You would think elder adults who went through the whole hippie-dippie era would be more prone to accept legalization?

    Or maybe it’s that very experience from that era that makes them unfavorable to legalization?

    Interesting no doubt. I would sure love to hear what they think.

  8. I give it 3 to 5 years for nationwide legalization. I imagine each state will differ on just how legal, like they do in the case of alcohol. For instance, some states such as Utah don’t permit the sale of alcohol on Sundays. But the winds of change are blowing, and people with with access to good information (due in no small part to the internet) are beginning to see how badly they’ve been lied to for decades. Won’t be long now boys.

  9. California has been the starting block for the Cannabis revolution to date.Lets hope they don’t drop the ball now.

  10. Alot of North Easterners feel the same way but are under the umbrella of FEAR & SUSPISION and are afraid of speaking out for fear of losing our jobs and places in our local communities.

    I guarentee if an annonymous distric by distric public vote was allowed, the results in favor of legalization would be staggering.

  11. I saw the results of the poll on msnbc and was thrown off a little bit when they reported 33% favored legalization. Most of the recent polls that I know of show a much higher number than what msnbc was reporting. At the time I was watching they failed to report the rest of the numbers that was pointed out in this article which was kind of strange seeing that for the most part msnbc has been extremely fair handeling this topic. Thanks for clearing up the numbers.

  12. to yoni @ #8

    been tokin since the sixties and continue to embrace flowa powa. there are many of us.

    also we geezers realize that cannabis really does have med value not the least of which is preventive.

    we continuje to be demonized. that ol nixon got some nasty revenge on us with that csa back in ’70 and the dea spawn.

  13. If you do the math of when the anti-cannabis propaganda was at its peak and for how long it lasted, you will better understand. No matter how much people on avg. won’t admit to being brainwashed by govt., they are under the spell regardless. It’s a common humanistic form of peer pressure and behavioral modification to rules and regulations as taught from our formidable years. Avg. age 60-65 on up, right? Now do the simple math from when it started in the mid 1920s. Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr.(do as daddy says Bush Jr.). I don’t believe it’s all political posturing(Dem./Rep.). Just look at the neo-cons. tea party people. The younger of this group is for it’s use, the elders are TYPICALLY against.

  14. One day we’ll live in a country of real freedom. We’ll be able to light up and smoke, just as others can drink their wine, down their morning coffee, pop their viagras, take their Xanax, and chew on Zoloft. Not to mention: smoke their cigarettes, swallow their Zoloft, and pop a couple of Advil, Ritalin, Percocet, and finish off with a Zantac, Claritin, or Benedryl. How can such immense hypocrisy even be tolerated? Is this not the land of the free? All I can do is dream. Until then, they’ll be sniffing my pee every month with my career on the line. California, please show us the way! Too bad it took an economic calamity to make this a possibility and not our collective logic and tolerance. Just please be prepared for the massive propaganda campaign that will be waged by the prohibitionists in October. They are powerful corporations and government agencies that stand to lose a lot if it passes…
    Power to the people!

  15. what makes something legal or illegal in this country here and now?

    ans the cops, the money the political system which for the last forty years has said to cannabis users fukkkuverymuch.

    today the people have no true say.

    make us is the police state war cry shouted at the people.

    all we are saying is give peace a chance.

    all the feds have to say is no to legalization because fed trumps state. one hopes that cali could be the crucial test in a power shift to the people.

  16. by the csa law, cannabis is legal legal leeegal LEGAL right now. yes but but but ….

    cannabis is legal because it has PROVEN medicinal value and does NOT belong in the illegal narcotic category which requires no medicinal value for a given substance. cannabis has been maliciously misplaced in the wrong most severe category. nixon amd his contemporary neocon plague still sux.

    the herb sits there like a lonely lil petunia in an onion patch waiting to be plucked by a passing knight.

    vewwwwwie siiiiimple mon ami

  17. This would be great. I hope they start tackling harder states soon though like PA because then other states might see that and be more questionable about legalization and maybe lean on our side or at least look into it more. The thing is California was always the state seen as the first for medical use so this was expected that they were the first to legalize, but don’t get me wrong this is pretty fuckin awesome!!! and I’m so syked.

  18. I was watching all polls but this one on 4/20….kinda depressing.If California gets there roll on with legalization, maybe the rest will follow.I’m in Minnesota,so the Midwest.The Midwest’s poll was the lowest : (.Either way I can get what I want legal or not.I’d rather have it legal,but in 10 years of smoking I never once was even remotely close to being in trouble for marijuana.

  19. The left coast is the best. We do love those forward thinking Westerners. It is what people in other countries think of when they think of America. They say it must be wonderful to be so free. If California does lift cannabis prohibition they will see more tourists coming then they are prepared to handle. I don’t think they will be able to count the money fast enough. If California is already the 7th largest economy in the world what will it be after prohibition 4th or 5th. I’m California dreamin!

  20. So if we are the majority now, Why the hell are we even debating this anymore.

    This was a repubic at one time. It has become a democracy.

    Democracy is 51% of the people taking away the rights of the other 49%.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

    Time for talk is over!

  21. #11 – Pauk Revere and #12 – Paul Revere:

    If you are who I think you are, it’s good to see you’re visiting NORML. If you are who I think you are then you know me, and you know I’d say to you that your reasons are not valid, not anymore kiddo.
    With that said, you would most likely be blown away by the positive reception you’d receive from being more open with your community over failed drug policies.

    Chances are there is a Students for Sensible Drug Policy Chapter at your University, google ssdp dot org
    They are one way you could be active to help end the war on drugs.

    And if you are who I think you are, you are a compassionate, loving, caring individual who should consider what Prohibition has done:


    * Only 13% of drug users are African American, yet they account for 67% of those sentenced to jail for drug offenses.

    Mass Incarceration

    * The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prisoner population.

    Lack of Recovery Resources

    * 48% of the need for drug treatment goes unmet in the U.S.

    Public Opinion

    * A Pew poll found that three out of four Americans feel that the Drug War has failed and can never be won.

    Waste of Taxpayer Dollars

    * Even after spending more than $50 billion a year on the Drug War, drugs are more available and drug cartels are more wealthy than ever before.

    War on Youth

    * More than 200,000 students have been denied financial aid simply because they have drug convictions.
    In closing revere, if you cannot gravitate towards the Legalize side then gravitate towards the Medical Marijuana side. That’s fairly safe for you.
    Just please don’t forget about the Legalize side. Prohibition must be stopped and we need good people like you to help out.

  22. I work in retail selling alcohol and tobacco frequently and without any obligation or mentioning of legalzation people complain about taxes and cost’s of beer and cigarettes go up and especially the past 6 months people just say it that we should legalize it! I always get a grin on my face knowing that there are more people being outloud about it.

    I have some customers who get 3 or 4 packs every day of ciggerattes. And some that buy 5 cans of 211 every chance they get!!! instead of getting a home or a decent job and shower. They always tell me they find it hard to beleive that the government makes beer legal but not pot. 80% of the people say that.. a change is coming soon i can feel it….

  23. They say everything starts out west and heads east. WELL, its We need legislation like that in Indiana, THE BACKWARDS STATE and THE POLICE STATE. They are still out there to create UNICORNS. BIG BROTHER TECHNOLOGY and DRACON LAWS go hand in hand with FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OVERLORDS 21ST CENTURY INQUISITORS THE DEA (DEAD END ATROCITIES) on MARIJUANA PROHIBITION. Well it’s time to go to the DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. 420 ALL THE WAY!

  24. I am very happy to hear that one state has got the balls to attempt something like this. Once it passes(cause we know it will) then other states will question the government more and more states will vote on it as well. Then the federal government will either try to step in and be like, “Wahahhha, No, you can’t do this!” or they will make it legally, federally. This nation is not a leader in anything, why not be the leader in legalization?

    Go California!!

  25. In all fairness, I blasted CNBC’s poll because they polled only 1001 people.

    The CBS poll is just as if not more unreliable by polling only 500 people.

    The only polls that mean anything are the one where you all get up off your asses and vote these scumbags out and vote in pro legalization people.

  26. Finally its our time…. I have an idea for all you bowl packers out there…… Find someone who says they are going to vote NO on AB390. Tell them you understand their opposition, but you would like to propose a compromise. Let them know you are gonna go into that voting booth and only vote YES on AB390, plus you really don’t care about any other issue on the ballot. Finally, that you would be glad to trade their YES vote on AB390 for any two other issues that they feel passionate about. Politicians in Washington do this all the time and its time we started……..

    Please share this link to all those who need to register to vote YES on AB390 :

    I encourage all to have registration smoke-out parties, where you all fill out and print your registration forms. Then, have smoke-out voting parties. We need everyones support for this one.

    Live well…..

    The Quag

    The Quag

  27. There is very little money to be made by simply leaving people alone, but enormous amounts are required to try and make people obedient slaves. Prohibitionists will never stop until they are put in prison and kept there until they learn to mind their own business. While locked up, I suggest they re-read the Constitution of the United States.

  28. I am a resident of the greatly confused state of Indiana, and I love my cannabis. When the numbers come through California in November I plan on taking a vaction that following December. The thought that I would be able to set in a designated area and legally consume cannabis is a dream that I hope to see become a reality

  29. NORML, what are your plans for PA? I saw recently that you enlisted the supreme court for help in decriminalizing in Philly.Will there be attempts soon to bring this statewide?

    [Paul Armentano responds: Philly NORML is the impetus behind HB 1393. A senate companion bill is set to be introduced early next month, and hearings on the measure will be held shortly thereafter. Fox News reecently spoke with Philly NORML here:

  30. I think Norml & MAPP are doing great work these days.

    Our opponents seem to think one day we will go away and allow marijuana to be illegal forever. We need to make them understand that they are mistaken. That we are NEVER going away.

    WE’RE HERE! WE’RE BAKED… what was the rest?!

  31. Just make sure when you guys and gals are voting this November, to be careful. The new talk is to support legalization to get into office as some policticians are realizing that if they jump on the wagon, it might lead them into office.

    I will only vote for those who have always supported the movement, not someone along for the ride because those people will surely renege once in office, or just tread water and appear to be the voice of the people, but behind closed doors do otherwise.

    As many other serious issues we face as Americans, ending cannabis prohibtion should be priority ONE for everybody. We can’t fix our economy when we blow BILLIONS each year on prohibition and imprisoning people who could be working contributors to the nation. Instead, our laws turn them into a 25k a year drain while they rot in prison and even more money we have to pay to keep their families fed and housed on welfare. Pharma companies, alcohol and tobacco companies, private prison systems and our civilian police force (which is more of a military force these days) are the primary benefactors of prohibition, along with paid off politicians. Where do you think all that money comes from?! Us, the “average joe” tax paying American. WE are making these people rich and powerful, and they are arresting us in the process!!!

    Our national debt is going to destroy our country in the coming years unless we go over EVERY line item in the budget, starting with prohibition. We don’t need the government to enforce our “moral” behavior, and we simply cannot afford it as a country. Our debt will destroy us long before some foreign country will.

    Paul, as always…love your work. 🙂

  32. As an “old” fart I can’t see why some of my shuffle board team ain’t in favor of legalization?! Just kidding about shuffle board team but I’m over 60 and this is what us old duffers need. It gets boring getting old. My grandpa lived to 99 and he said he was bored as hell in his last few years. Seniors need to get a clue and realize that all these meds we take could be reduced considerably just by using a few grams of cannabis a day.

    And what’s wrong with the Repubes? I don’t get it. Are these part of the “moral majority” from the 80’s or what? Are these Tea Baggers, the ones that think they want their freedom back? They have no clue until your real freedoms are all taken away just for choosing a safer substance to put into your body.

  33. I get a real big kick out of people that think “one person doesn’t make a difference.” The reason I say that is [because] if you know “one person” in the world, you know “everyone” on the world. I know you…you know someone…they know someone…and those someone’s know everyone else. It’s much the same as the double-down effect. 1+1=2…2+2=4…4+4=8…and so on…until you reach the 21st Martingale, at which point that number exceeds one million. So! word of mouth advertising truly is the fastest and most effective way to get a point in circulation. We know the dime chain letter works until it runs out of particpants. So! if it doesn’t cost a penny, we can just let it do its magic.

    The message is:
    We want and will have our Constitutional right restored. We will have medicinal cannabis nationwide. We will have it, and that’s that! Get used to it! What is [most important] is, we will not have it used for a political pawn, nor will it have any piggybacks. Damn the torpedos…full speed ahead!

  34. Norml, has anything been done on HB270 in Missouri? (Dont know if that is the exact number off top of my head) But I know the last 3 years or so, Medical bills have all stalled and not even been named to a committee. Is there a website to keep this up to date? I have emailed all the people that are Cosponsors and NONE of them have emailed me back….starting to wonder if Missouri will ever pull their heads out their bibles and start showing compasion, and a care for other people, instead of being the biggest “Bigget” state in the nation.

    [Paul Armentano responds: NORML’s capwiz center is the website that keeps you up-to-date on state legislation.

    The bill in question is HB 1670. The legislature will not be acting on this measure this year.]

  35. #35 and #36 – those are some serious thoughts you’ve written here. One can only hope that people read those words and take them to heart. But I fear most are buried in FaceB or what have you and unfortunately not into the true activism that would truly end this madness.

    Yes, #35, Ending Prohibition is my Number One priority, would love to know that is true for millions of others.

    #38 – In the past the answer would have been, “that’s the million dollar question”, now it’s “the trillion dollar question”.

  36. It’s official, teen driving is ILLEGAL in the United States of America.

    Every year about 350,000 teens are involved in serious car accidents that require emergency medical help. About 3,500 die directly due to car accidents. 25% of those deaths involved a Blood Alcohol Content of at least 0.08. Do I have your attention now? Teen driving isn’t really illegal in the United States of America. But smoking marijuana is. Now, before I lose you, let me say that in all of marijuana’s history (5000 or so years) there has never been one single medical record of any person dying due to marijuana toxicity (overdose, etc.). EVER! There’s not many things you can say that about. So why is it illegal? It can’t be for causing millions of deaths, because it doesn’t do that. It can’t be for causing thousands of car accidents, because it doesn’t do that. It can’t be for causing domestic home violence, because it doesn’t do that. It can’t be for causing cancer, because a 20 year study (by Dr. Tashkin…google it) showed it doesn’t do that. Then why could it be illegal? Well, a quick reason would be that it started out as racism, and moved on to be “status quo”. As well as it was a target of the War on Drugs. Just think about it, what would all of these prison guards do if we had a drastic fall in inmates; or if police officers had more time to concentrate on more serious, violent crimes; or if we could use the money that would normally be spent illegally and use it towards something beneficial?

    Basically, my point is: if something that causes thousands of deaths (like teen driving) is legal, then why would something that doesn’t can any deaths, and is less harmful than alcohol, be illegal? Right? Right.

    Legalize hemp and marijuana – Build green factories and manufacture it, paper, textiles,plastics and resin composites, bio-fuel.
    It grows quick for high turnover. Put people to work growing it, transporting it, and selling it.
    TAX the Heck out of it – (no one will mind paying the tax either)
    It would create NEW jobs in every aspect of the labor industry.
    An assortment of American made products to buy again!
    Make it easy – if it’s made with hemp it’s made in the USA.
    Save money on the drug war and put Mexican drug cartels out of business!
    *Hemp was the 2nd cash crop in the USA(behind cotton) when our country was founded!

  38. It is time for this goverment, Federal, DEA,FBI,CIA and all the others to get out of our lives, and let us alone. Since when do we need all this goverment in our lives, it never was here before.It is time to weed out those that do want us to be happy with cannabis. Vote every incumbents out,they have been in office way to long as it is.They will know we are serious!!! Vote against every drug levy!! These incumbents think this is a life long job, well i don’t. Serve your four years and then get out and go home!!

  39. re;
    By contrast, a separate poll published this week by the Associated Press and CNBC reported that 55 percent of Americans opposed the
    “complete legalization of the use of marijuana for

    wow, really ???

    so 55% are against a 10 year-old smoking pot and selling pot, or adults using a 100 pound bale to bludgen someone to death, or throwing 100 pound bales off overpasses to cause auto accidents, etc.

    therefore, 45% must be in favor of all these things
    (and more sillyness that i haven’t thought of.)


    they know that
    “treat pot just like alcohol”
    gets more than 50% support.

    multiple polls have PROVED this FACT.

    and that scares the hell out of them.

    that’s the reason for such stipidity.

    they are trying to get the answer they want,

    -not the true data.

  40. 40 mtlasagna

    California is the 5th largest nation in the world. Whatever California wants…California gets! And if the Feds don’t like it…well!…who needs them!

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