Washington, DC: Fifty-two percent of Americans say that the adult consumption of cannabis ought to be legal, according to national polling data released last week by the Pew Research Center. The total is the highest percentage of support ever reported by Pew, which began surveying public opinion on this issue in 1973.
This year’s percentage marks an 11 percent increase in support since 2010, the last time Pew posed the question. Forty-five percent of respondents said they opposed liberalizing marijuana laws.
Democrats, (59 percent), males (57 percent), African Americans (56 percent), and those respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 (64 percent) were most likely to favor legalizing marijuana. Female respondents (48 percent), Republicans (37 percent), and those age 65 and over (33 percent) were least likely to back legalization.
Pollsters also reported that 77 percent of Americans – including 72 percent of self-identified Republicans and 60 percent of those respondents age 65 or older – believe that cannabis possesses "legitimate medical uses," a position that directly conflicts with federal policy.
According to Pew, a solid majority of Americans also question present federal efforts to enforce the criminalization of cannabis. The poll reported that 72 percent of respondents agreed that "government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth," and 60 percent of Americans said that the government should no longer enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have approved of its use.
In recent months, national polls by Gallup, Quinnipiac University, and Public Policy Polling have all similarly reported majority public support for legalizing and regulating the adult use of cannabis.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.