Source: Opposing views
By Reason Foundation
In October 1969, 84 percent of Americans opposed legalizing the use of
marijuana, 12 percent thought it should be legal. Thirty-two years later
in October 2011, Gallup found for
the first time Americans broke the 50 percent threshold favoring
legalizing the drug. Today, the November elections mark the first time
voters popularly legalized the drug for recreational use. In Colorado,
State Constitutional Amendment 64 passed 55 to 45 percent, and in
Washington Initiative 502 also passed 55 to 45 percent, legalizing
marijuana for recreational use.
Reason-Rupe poll conducted
this past September also found the nation ripe for drug policy change.
The nation is evenly divided over whether to legalize small amount of
marijuana for adults, 48 to 48 percent. However, nearly three-fourths
believe medical marijuana should be legal with a doctor’s prescription.
Young Americans are much more open to reform, about 59 percent of
Americans under 34 favor legalization, as do 56 percent among those
35-44. Middle-aged Americans are evenly split, while seniors are most
opposed 64 percent to 29 percent in favor. However, even a majority of
seniors (58 percent) favor medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor.
Religiosity highly correlates with position on drug legalization.
Sixty-seven percent of those who attend church weekly oppose legalizing
recreational pot, but 58 percent support medical marijuana. In contrast
75 percent of those who never attend church favor marijuana
legalization, as do 61 percent of those who only attend church a few
times a year.
The gender gap emerges for recreational but not medical marijuana.
Fifty-two percent of men favor legalizing recreational pot, and 52
percent of women oppose.
Interestingly, significantly more tea party supporters than
Republicans favor legalizing marijuana (38 percent to 27 percent).
Upwards of 55 percent fo both Democrats and Independents also support
legalizing the drug.
It is surprising that only 18 of the 50 states allow medical
marijuana given that nearly all political and demographic groups favor
medical marijuana with a physician’s prescription.
With 41 years of experience since President Richard Nixon first called for
a War on Drugs in 1971, fully 80 percent of Americans think this war
has been a failure. Among these Americans a plurality (37 percent) think
we should ease up spending on this failed war, but 35 percent think we
should keep spending the same, and a quarter think the solution is
spending more money.
Despite the fact that majorities of Democrats and Independents want
to legalize pot, while nearly two thirds of Republicans want it banned,
all political groups are equally likely to want to spend more money
fighting the war on drugs (about 25 percent). About a third of all
political groups also would spend less money, and roughly 40 percent
would spend what we’re doing now.
If a political candidate were to take a stand in favor of treating
marijuana like alcohol, thereby legalizing it, 43 percent say it would
make no difference in how they voted, 29 percent would be less likely
and 26 percent more likely to vote for that candidate. Republicans would
be more likely to oppose such a candidate (47 percent) than Democrats
(18 percent) or Independents (29 percent). But nationally it only helps a
candidate among 31 percent of Democrats, 32 percent of Independents and
13 percent of Republicans.
Colorado and Washington states legalizing recreational marijuana is
likely a harbinger of liberalizing drug policy nationwide.
Interestingly, state polls before the election underestimated actual
support for both measures. In Colorado average support for Amendment 64
was 52 percent, it passed with 55 percent; In Washington average support
for Initiative 502 was 51 percent and it also passed with 55 percent of
the vote. With national support hovering at about 50 percent, federal
bureaucrats may soon find they lack the political support needed to
continue the national War on Drugs.