Nearly seven in ten Americans — including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — say that marijuana ought to be legal for personal use, and most perceive it to be less dangerous than alcohol, according to nationwide polling provided by Monmouth University.
Consistent with other surveys, 68 percent of respondents support “legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” Support for legalization was strongest among those under 35 years of age (87 percent), Democrats (76 percent), and Independents (73 percent); however, a majority of Republicans (52 percent) and older Americans (53 percent) also endorsed legalizing cannabis.
More than half (54 percent) of respondents reported ever having tried marijuana, including majorities of Independents (56 percent), Democrats (54 percent), Republicans (51 percent). Consistent with other surveys, people with personal experience using marijuana are more supportive of its legalization (86 percent) than those who have never tried it (47 percent).
“Personal experience with cannabis is a relatively surefire cure for ‘reefer madness,’” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “As greater percentages of adults continue to become familiar with marijuana for either therapeutic purposes or for their own personal use, expect to see many of the more sensational yet specious claims that once dominated the cannabis narrative be relegated to the dustbin of history, and expect to see public support in favor of its legalization rise even higher.”
When asked whether they perceived marijuana or alcohol to be “more dangerous for people in this country to use,” most respondents said that alcohol was the more harmful of the two — a finding that is also consistent with prior polls. Seventy percent of respondents said that they believed that legalizing cannabis would either lead to a decrease in crime or have no impact on crime rates.