Support for marijuana legalization has hit an all-time high

By Christopher Ingraham | The Washington Post

A new survey released today by the the Associated Press and the University of Chicago finds that a record-high percentage of Americans — 61 percent — say they support marijuana legalization.

The survey uses the same question wording (“Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?”) on marijuana as previous Gallup surveys, which had shown a previous high of 58 percent support for legalization last October.

However, the AP asked a follow-up question that found a considerable amount of nuance in Americans’ support marijuana legalization. Twenty-four percent of legalization supporters said marijuana should be made available “only with a medical prescription.” Another 43 percent said there should be “restrictions on purchase amounts.” And one-third of legalization supporters said there should be “no restrictions” on purchase amounts.

“This is yet another demonstration of just how ready Americans are for the end of marijuana prohibition,” said Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority, a marijuana reform group. “The growing level of support for legalization that we see in poll after poll is exactly why we’re now in a situation — for the first time in history — where every major presidential candidate in both parties has pledged to let states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference.”

Marijuana legalization is particularly popular among Democrats (70 percent support) and independents (65 percent). Nearly half (47 percent) of Republican voters support legalization as well.

There is a considerable age gap on the question. Eighty-two percent of 18-to-29 year olds support legalization, compared to only 44 percent of those aged 60+.

The survey comes at a potential tipping point for drug reform. Next month, the United Nations will hold a special session in New York to re-evaluate the state of international drug laws. Many researchers and public health experts have been encouraging the UN to take a less-punitive approach to drug policy. Yesterday, a group of medical and public health experts urged governments to decriminalize all drug use and experiment with regulated drug markets in some cases.

Read more here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/25/support-for-marijuana-legalization-has-hit-an-all-time-high/

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center