A new Gallup poll shows support for cannabis legalization at yet another all-time high: 66 percent nationwide.
After reaching a majority for the first time just five years ago, support for legalization climbed to a record-high 60 percent in 2016 and then 64 percent in 2017, and the latest report continues that record-setting trend. Two-thirds of the U.S. adults now scratch their heads wondering why prohibition still exists.
Last year, the poll made history as support among Republicans reached a majority (51 percent) for the first time, climbing two points in the latest survey. Moreover, the 2018 poll also made history by showing majority support—for the first time ever—among adults ages 55 and older. Last year, the age demographic bordered on a majority with 50 percent support, but that number leapt to 58 percent in the latest poll.
And it gets better. Eight years ago, majority support was limited to the western states like California, Oregon and Washington. Ready for a shocker? The East now boasts the highest level of support at 67 percent, while the West, South and Midwest are all tied with at 65 percent. In just eight years, support among the Bible Belt states leapt around 25 points, compared to nine percent in the West. At present, no Midwestern or Southern state has legalized recreational cannabis, but skyrocketing public support suggests change might be on the horizon.
"Support for legalization in the U.S. has continued to grow, even as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has pledged to crack down on marijuana at the federal level," said the Gallup report. "But Sessions' own department has done little to actually carry out his demonstrated opposition to legal marijuana, and states have continued to legalize it since Sessions took on his role. Moreover, President Donald Trump undermined his attorney general's pledged mission over the summer when he indicated he would likely support a bill to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies."
When Gallup first asked about legalization in 1969, only 12 percent of Americans supported it, and this percentage stayed in the teens and mid-20s through the 1990s. Support hit 31 percent in 2001 and started going up more quickly from there. In 2010, support for medical cannabis reached 70 percent, and the following year, support for full legalization hit 50 percent. That figure jumped to 58 percent in 2013 and 2015 (support temporarily dipped seven points in 2014) before reaching 60 percent in 2016 and growing from there.
Photo of Jasper John's Flag, 1967 by Thad Zajdowicz/Flickr.