Another day, another poll showing most Americans want the government to legalize marijuana for personal use.
The new survey, compiled by YouGov, found that U.S. voters still support legalization by wide margins, with well over half backing the idea. Opposition, meanwhile, is shrinking.
The poll, released in January, concluded that 52 percent of all adult voters want to make marijuana legal while 34 percent oppose the idea. The remaining 14 percent told pollsters they were unsure how they felt on the issue.
Consistent majority support since 2013
Polls have consistently demonstrated majority support for legalization since 2013, when a Gallup survey first showed more than 50 percent backing. The drug was already legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington at the time; it has since been legalized in Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia. About 30 other states allow some form of medical cannabis.
Different polls can show widely varying results, so it’s hard to know whether public opinion is advancing rapidly or incrementally. Recent Gallup polls have rated support near 60 percent, while most other polling organizations have pegged it at slightly above 50 percent.
Public support will further increase
But the changing political environment means legalization is gaining steam and will likely bring even more voters along with it. With each year that passes without legalization going south in Colorado or elsewhere, public support is likely to increase.
Specifically, the YouGov poll found that a majority of both men and women favor reform. Roughly half of all women said they would vote for legalization, while the figure was 55 percent for men. Support was similar among black and white voters – 59 percent and 53 percent, respectively – but weak among Hispanics, who backed the idea by 39 percent. Other races favor it by 57 percent.
Voters aged 65+ least likely to support reform
The biggest divide comes in terms of age. Older Americans are much less likely to support recreational reform, with just 39 percent of seniors over the age of 65 saying they want to see it happen. As usual, younger voters, those below age 30, are strongly in favor of legalization, with 56 percent saying they would vote for it.
But support was also surprisingly strong among middle-aged adults. Those between the ages of 30 and 44 backed legal weed by 54 percent, while those between the ages of 45 and 64 offered even stronger support, 56 percent. Polls have traditionally showed that backing for reform decreases with each age group.
Support was deeply divided between political parties. Only 46 percent of Republican voters said they favor legalization, compared to 66 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents. Support is spread evenly across the country, however, with a majority of voters in every region saying they would choose to legalize. Meanwhile, wealthier voters are more likely than poor and middle-income voters to back full legalization.