Good news for legalization advocates: the number of American adults supporting marijuana legalization continues to rise with each passing year. The Pew Research Center’s latest poll indicates that 6 out of 10 Americans, or 61%, now are in favor of marijuana legalization. It is now double the amount (31%) who answered the same question in the year 2000.
Public opinion, like a pendulum, swings back and forth on many issues. However, sometimes it swings irreversibly in one direction. This latest poll, like many before it, shows a steady and rapid increase in favoring marijuana legalization across the country.
And the results couldn’t come at a better time. Earlier this month Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the Cole Memo, giving the Justice Department more power to interfere with marijuana-related matters in individual states. Politicians and the greater public have responded with alarm — especially during a time when more and more states are leaning toward legalization.
The latest Pew poll paints a clear picture: the American public has already made their decision about marijuana legalization. And from California to Vermont — lawmakers are listening. The Justice Department, however, is as far from reality as ever.
Generation X and Millennials lead the way
As expected, views on marijuana policy differ from generation to generation. However, as Generation Xers and Millennials continue to become a larger part of America’s adult demographic, their views become increasingly important. Here are the findings.
Millennials (born between 1981-1997) overwhelmingly support legalization. The survey found that 70% of this group said that marijuana should be legal. Generation Xers (born between 1965-1980) were also strongly in favor of legalization with 66% supporting legalization.
Baby Boomers, classified as those born between 1946-1964, are now also in favor of legalization at 56%. The only generation that didn’t voice majority support for legalization was the Silent Generation, which is categorized as those born between 1926-1945.
An irreversible trend toward legalization?
The survey also shows divisions along partisan and religious lines. Democrats and independents favor legalization the most, with nearly 7 out of 10 saying it should be legal. Republicans, on the other hand, are more divided on the idea, only 43% claiming support for legalization. Evangelicals were also more likely to be opposed to legalization.
What gets more interesting is when the study controls for age. Younger Republicans (aged 40 and under), for example, favor legalization 63% to 38%. This shows a possible divide within the party — and an indication that the younger generations, regardless of party, favor legalization.
With California legalizing recreational marijuana on January 1st, and many other states set to follow in 2018, it would seem that lawmakers are finally getting onboard with delivering marijuana policy that voters are asking for.
Although anti-legalization forces like the current Attorney General and certain segments of the population still do exist, they are shrinking in comparison to the growing support for legalization.
What about you? Do you think that the scales have been tipped irreversibly toward marijuana legalization?