POLL: Americans Evenly Split on Marijuana Legalization, But Overwhelmingly View It As State Issue

Polling data released Tuesday by Rasmussen Reports shows the American public is now evenly split on the issue of marijuana legalization, with 45% in support, 45% opposed, and 10% undecided. This is up 5 points from the previous time Rasmussen polled this language in 2009, when the issue received just 40% support to 46% opposition.

However, an overwhelming amount believe the issue or marijuana legalization should be left to state governments. 60% of respondents replied that it was best left to the states, while only 27% thought it was an issue for the federal government.

Rasmussen also found that a minuscule 7% of Americans think the United States is winning the war on drugs, 82% stated the country is not winning, and 12% are not sure.

This poll was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from November 9th-10th and surveyed 1,000 Adults nationwide.

Also released this week was a new ABC/Post poll that had support for legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana at 48% support to 50% opposition amongst all adults.

Both of these polls show similar trends in support for marijuana legalization. Support for these policies is clearly still being held down by the 65+ demographic, who, in each survey, were the only age group to not have plurality support for legalization. In the Rasmussen poll, 49% of those ages 18-39 supported legalization, along with 48% of those 40-64. Support plummets amongst the 65+ crowd, who only support legalization by 26%. Similar trends were seen in the Post/ABC poll, where the 65+ age group were the only group to fall below 50% support for marijuana legalization, they instead opposed it by 67%.

These surveys also highlight the still present gender gap in legalization support. In both surveys women’s support trailed behind men, by 12 points in the Rasmussen poll and by 9 points in the Post/ABC poll.

37 thoughts

  1. These 65+ are nothing but old farts who forgot where they came from! These were largely from the 60’s generation that championed the use of pot (and other “mind-expanding” drugs) and now seem to have done a 180 and don’t want to allow for others what they demanded for themselves. I’m disappointed in their hypocracy!

  2. I turn 65 next month…thank you…and fully support legalization. I speak from personal experience, four+ decades of personal use, and disappointment that the majority of my peers are still buying the lies about cannabis. It is actually a blessing for us as we age, and I appreciate it more now than ever.

  3. I think that the primary reason so many people believe that marijuana law should be left up to the states is because of a serious mistrust of our federal govt. In my opinion, it should be legal everywhere in “The Land of the Free” and, of course, that would come from the federal level. But, since they have proven, thus far on this issue, to be completely untrustworthy, I too would choose for this to be a state issue for that reason. I’ve lost all faith I may have had at one time earlier in my life for our federal govt.

    Fireweed – Your opinion of older Americans is disgusting! You have no real clue what they are like or what they believe. I’m one of them and I’m, frankly, offended! Indeed, some of the members of NORML quite possibly fall into the category of and “old fart” by your definition. Grow up! People who believe in control and prohibition come from all ages. It is true that the older population has been subjected to a great deal more propaganda and had access to less information when they were younger compared today’s younger generation.

  4. 65+ are people born before 1948, that means they grew up in the fifties and early sixties which was before all the radical changes in society that took place during the mid to late sixties.

  5. I can think of some several causes and excuses of why an older person sometimes change, and it may have something to do with taking strong pharmaceuticals and having their grandchildren living with them because the federal government is controlling the economy and everything else.

  6. I am 65, and as friend once told me in 1968 I “barely got in the Electric Generation”. Over 65 includes everyone from 65 to 100. Much too large a demographic. They should split that into three ten year sections and see what the results are.

  7. So the good news is the generation brainwashed against marijuana are dying off. The bad news is I’m one of them.

  8. No sir, this group is from the 50s. They grew up in a society where marijuana wasn’t around at all. They were grown adults with children when weed finally showed up which is why they don’t like it.

    The same group of people draw their views on minorities, gays, and women from the same time period & life experiences.

  9. If people in their 40s and up would stop being a bunch of Sissys, stop being afraid and try Cannibis you would never ever stop using it again in your life. Most everything youve ever heard about Marijuana is a lie and I can assure you that if you have aches and pains, arthritis, Phlebitis, Swollen joints and ankles that hurt every single day of your life you owe it to yourself to find some Marijuana and smoke it or eat it. You will feel better than you have felt in years and you will find with a little bit of experience and moderation you can use a little of it all the time, everyday and still function like a normal human being only with less pain. You might once again enjoy living instead of just aching your way to the end. Trust me its worth it. Ive been using this for over 30 years and find it more and more beneficial every single day.
    Get away from Prescription pain killers they’re deadly and will kill you without question. Their are time when Rx pain killers are needed dont misunderstand but for most of the aches and pains Marijuana is far better and you can NOT die from its consumption, thats one of the best parts. Do yourself a favor, get some Marijuana and help out your friends and neighbors to understand what a benefit it can be for them.

  10. Do the math; they were from the mid 40’s to the early 50’s and they were tought Mary Jane was the Devil’s Weed and that Alcohol and Cigarets are good for you!

  11. Isn’t this way down from the previous polls? The last polls I remember showed a solid 50% support for legalization, and another had us at 59%. Are we losing ground?

    [Paul Armentano responds: No. Different polls word the questions differently. If you wish to do a comparison, it needs to be a year-to-year comparison of the same poll using the same question. Separate polls wording the question differently have polled higher than these. For instance, a previous 2012 Rasmussen poll asking voters about taxing and regulating cannabis came back at 56 percent support.]

  12. I doubt that we should be considering Rasmussen a trusted polling source, especially considering how skewed towards the right their polls were prior to the election. It’s likely that public support for legalization is significantly higher than this poll suggests.

  13. Keep running the economy into the ground until cannabis is legalized. If it’s not, Congress will let the country go off the fiscal cliff. The recovery will not begin.

    Where are the politician scaremongers now?

    Look, cannabis citizens are not our enemies. They are not shooting, throwing knives or grenades or otherwise trying to harm police like the terrorists some prohibitionists would have the public believe. They want to throw money at the police, so to speak. They need their jobs and pensions and want money. Think about it, someone’s throwing bails of money at you, all legal-like, and they want you to keep it. You’re going to keep it, especially if you need it. Foolish if you didn’t.

    Legalize as part of the sequestration cuts. It’s your cover. It’s the excuse you’ve been looking for to vote for something that will legalize cannabis without spoiling your chances for re-election.

    The Beat Goes On


    Sonny & Cher

  14. Two points…
    1. It says 7% say the War on Drugs is being won. Depends on which perspective you use. It’s being won, but now the good guys are winning.
    2. The 65+ crowd are the 40-somethings from when I was a teenager. Them and their opinion are eerily similar to the Drug War: old, out of date and on the way out.

    BTW, I saw on another site that 4 more states just this week announced they are throwing their proverbial hats into the proverbial legalization ring via legislation. NORML, check this out, please. You guys are about 80-90% of my source for news and what-not.

    [Paul Armentano responds: To clarify, lawmakers in four states announced via a conference call their intent to introduce statewide cannabis legalization in 2013. In some cases, these will be reintroduction of previously introduced bills. NORML has partnered with some of these lawmakers in the past and, obviously, will do what we can to support these state efforts in 2013. You can stay up to date with all pending state legislation via NORML’s dedicated ‘Take Action’ page here: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/.%5D

    “…Colorado and Washington approved ballot initiatives to remove criminal penalties for adult marijuana use and regulate the substance in a manner similar to alcohol. State legislators from Rhode Island and Maine on Thursday will join the Marijuana Policy Project on a teleconference press call to announce that they are introducing similar bills to tax and regulate marijuana in their state legislatures.”

    Later in the same article…
    “In addition to Rhode Island and Maine, similar proposals will be submitted in at least two other states — Vermont and Massachusetts.”

    You get the key-words in the second part? …”AT LEAST two other States. Hmm….

    Know what’s happening? Prohibition is FINALLY DYING, PRAISE THE LORD!!

    Thank you CO and WA, for finally breaking this evil concept’s back.

  16. 1. This data should be used, target the elderly. They were raised by the reefer madness parents. I’m no strategeryest (self made bushism lol) but sounds to me as this issue gets more attention, data should be used and the idea of independence. At 26, I’ve already told docs no to their drugs in lieu of alternative medicine. As I age, I should get more say in my healthcare, including the use of beneficial substances with social paradigms.

    Lastly, let’s focus on the positive. Under 65 we are good and still gaining, as gma and gpa pass on, or hopefully learn some computer skills away from Glenn beck or similar propaganda, I have faith our elderly still will see reason and data that wasn’t available in their time. Now we know better. That’s my campaign, “Now we know better”

  17. I read the governor of Colorado contacted Holder immediately after the vote, begging for help. What happened to the 10th Amendment?

    In any case, now that two states have legalized marijuana, Obama has the perfect opportunity to show his quality by not crushing them under his boot. Lets see what he does.

  18. I live in Texas, a state that is controlled by special interest groups. If we rely on our state to legalize its a good chance we never will have legal marijuana,we can’t get our state to take a look at medical marijuana because most doctors in this state is in the pocket of big pharma.every time go to the doctor there is always some pharma rep their peddling their posions.

  19. Obviously it’s a FEDERAL issue. It doesn’t matter if 50 states legalize cannabis, the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT still deems it illegal and will continue to treat it as such. What I continue to fail to understand is the fact that Washington D.C., while home to the federal government proper, also has medical laws in place. These politicians and lobbyists are holding out!

    [Paul Armentano responds: As we have posted many times before, Washington DC’s law — which is yet to be implemented — was the result of a citizen’s initiative, followed by regulatory action by the DC City Council, which legislates its own laws for the District of Columbia.]

  20. The 7% of people that believe America is winning the war on drugs must lead a very sheltered life,,or they work for the DEA/ONDCP.

  21. I see it as more of a cultural (war) issue, rather than a generation gap. To change any law you have to change the lawmakers.

  22. Marihuana has been stigmatized for so long, the older generation is following what they been trained to do. (reefer madness) They come from a time when the public trusted the government. That’s not the case now. Everybody knows they’ve been lied to for the interests of special groups. Mainly from the super rich that are afraid of the general public. As far as the Feds are conserned, as long as the donation money keeps coming, is to piss on your leg and tell you it’s raining.

    Plant more weed.

  23. teh reason that the 65+ are not for the legaizaton of cannibis is becasuse back in there day they thought that it would make you go crazy and laugh uncontrollably and it will kill you. but todays generation relizes that its not that big of a deal. people should just get over it adn let this be a free country

  24. Any enforcement is going to say that legalization will create problems for them. Why? Less laws = less busts and fines. That means less need for more officers. This is law enforcement swindling the government to keep their job. State regulated means no laced product, as well as no offer to heroine/cocaine or hard drugs that ACTUALLY cause permanent damage and permanent addiction.

  25. With Americans being equally divided about legalizing marijuana, our Govt could, at the very least, decriminalize it at the Federal level. Even those folks who don’t think it should be legal surely don’t think anyone should be subjected to the current penalties in place throughout much of the country.

    Our nation’s federal laws continue to be based on ignorance, racism/predjudice, stubborness, and greed. Until this changes, I have no respect for the Govt of the USA! Those in power have shown themselves to be uncaring of the will of the people or what is best for our country.

    Hopefully, this will change soon. I am ever so hopeful (maybe stupidly so…) that President Obama will do the right thing now that we have helped to re-elect him for another 4 years.

  26. Recognize that folks who grew up in the 40s and 50s and are white grew up in a racist society where anything associated with black culture was reviled. Given the fact that harry anslinger got cannabis outlawed using racists sterotypes, it does not surprise me that older folks think that cannabis is bad.

    My father is 79 and he still holds his vaues from the 1950s, i am sad to say.

    However, i agree with i voted for legalization. I am not going to sucked into pharmaceuticals as i age because then i am dependent upon government funding to provide me those drugs.

  27. Fuck these people who think weed’s bad! They’re like people who have never had love all bad mouthing it and putting it down. We got a big portion of Earth’s people that are sociopathic. They’re probably just against it so our time is fucked up or something!

    Weed is good for you because it is similar in chemical structure to the chemicals released when people eat and get full. It’s good for you. And necessary. How many thousands of good uses including medical does pot have. Does Alcohol or Tobacco have ANY good uses considering it’s so dangerous? NOPE. Because of these good things pot should be legal.

    It’s as valuable as gold AND you can grow it.
    Think positive, keep making it better and never stop until it’s as legal as alcohol.

  28. Unfortunately an entire brainwashed generation will have to cease living before cannabis is throroughly legalized in the United States.
    Some older generations wont budge on their anti-cannabis stand despite the evidence of its medical benefits ( that ironically benefits them the most at that level) in thier face and they dont care about the decriminlization since they arent the ones whose lives are being ruined by bogus possession laws just because we have to fill those jails.

  29. My dad, God rest his soul, grew up during the 50’s. He always told us to “stay away from that crap – it’ll kill ya.” Yet, up until he had his stroke, he was smoking about 2-3 packs a day, and all his life he ate gravy, sausage, and just about any other grease-containing food. You gotta think, they were born in the 1930’s. So they were just like us, but with tons less facts like we do now. My grandparents were duped, after probably generations of hemp and cannabis farmers, into believing that this “devil weed” would destroy the very fabric of our nation. So in turn, they ingrained it into mom and dad’s souls that it’s bad beyond possibility. My mother knows the truth, and is in agreement with legalizing this wonder-plant (she’s 73, BTW). As more and more truth comes out, the propaganda will continue becoming less and less accepted by all communities at large. It’s actually already started, because more and more people in authority around the globe are looking at it as if it’s some kind of bad, sick joke.

  30. Don’t hate on people over 65. My wife is 68 and her sister is 72. Both support legalization. Both are progressive. Isn’t it the conservatives who are more likely to oppose legalization? I seem to remember that the Gallup poll showed 67% of those who call themselves liberal or progressive support legaliztion, regardless of age. Let’s be careful about lumping anyone over 65 together and calling them “old farts.”

  31. Galileo, love your comment. Laughs. That is indeed a situation.

    I guess my parents are “old” and would have been against legalization but they saw that the pot plan helped me kick booze – my worst habit. Elders who have seen pot work in their own families generally are supportive. But it takes something remarkable to counter the many years of propaganda they have suffered against marijuana.

    I hate to see our old people die. I think we need them. And they are coming around to our way of thinking. Ethan Nadelmann knows how to bring them in. Follow his advice regarding the elderly and marijuana. I report on them here:

    In Drug Law Reform, ‘The Elderly Are the Future’

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