Well, it probably won’t come as much of a surprise to most of you out there, but we can now officially say that over 60% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana (either medically or recreationally).
It’s no secret that the majority of Americans have favored the legal use of marijuana since at least 2011, which was the first time that 50% or more of the adult population supported cannabis rather than opposed it.
However, this is the first time in the country’s history that more than 65% of the population was of the belief that “marijuana use should [actually] be made legal.”
The news comes as a result of recently-released National Survey Data from Gallup, which has been measuring statistics on U.S. marijuana legalization since the 1960’s. And indeed, several other survey conductors reported similar “cannabis approval ratings” of 60% or higher: the well-renowned Pew Research Center reported a nearly 62% approval, while researchers from Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University showed roughly 63% support.
As you might imagine, Millenials (which are loosely defined as those born between 1981 and 1996, or those who “reach young adulthood in the early 21st century”) showed the largest number of support, with roughly 78% of participants in favor of cannabis legalization. Registered Democrats were also very supportive, with approximately three out of four (75%) in favor of legalization according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Independents also came in with over 70% legalization support (71% to be exact), while 53% of Republicans and 59% of senior citizens (those aged 55 and older) were in favor.
The Gallup poll was conducted between October 1st and 10th, 2018 – less than two weeks prior to the historical nationwide legalization of marijuana in Canada.
Later this year, four additional U.S. states will be voting on the legal recreational use of cannabis, potentially adding on to the nine states that already allow for some form of recreational adult use.
Commenting on the somewhat surprising data, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal has been quoted as saying:
“It is time for lawmakers of both parties to acknowledge en masse the data-driven and political realities of legalization. It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises, and [time to] implement common-sense, evidence-based regulations governing [the personal use of] cannabis and [its] licensed production by responsible adults.”
| “An outright majority of every demographic, including age, political party, and region of the country support the outright legalization of marijuana.”
-NORML Political Director Justin Strekal
How Does the New Data Compare to Historical U.S. Support for the Legalization of Marijuana?
Not surprisingly, it has only been within the last several years that the U.S. has begun showing support for the legal recreational use of marijuana.
Back in 1969 (the first year that Gallup began collecting data on the subject), just 12% Americans were in support of cannabis legalization.
This number compares with roughly 16% in 1973, 28% in 1977, 23% in 1985, 36% in 2005, and 58% in 2013.
HISTORICAL DATA OF AMERICANS IN SUPPORT OF LEGAL MARIJUANA
|YEAR||% AMERICANS IN SUPPORT OF MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION|
As you can see, since the turn of the new millenium marijuana legalization support has rocketed steadily upward, finding “majority support” for the very first time ever in 2013; just a year after Colorado and Washington decided via public vote that they would legalize the recreational sale and use of cannabis for adults over the age of 21.
Of course, all forms of cannabis continue to be illegal at the federal level, where the DEA classifies marijuana as a highly illicit Schedule I substance with “no medicinal value” and a “high potential for abuse.” This definition is of course absurd and highly outdated, considering the fact that thousands of studies have been published showing the positive therapeutic benefits of cannabis, as well as numerous clinical trials.
In fact, earlier this year in 2018, Epidiolex (cannabidiol) became the first-ever natural cannabis-based medicine to gain FDA approval, meaning it can now be prescribed by physicians and obtained via standard medical health insurance policies.
Will the U.S. Ever Go “Fully Legal?”
Truth be told, it’s hard to say whether or not the U.S. will ever go “fully legal” in terms of nationwide recreational marijuana use. Certainly there would be plenty of financial incentive to do so, as most analysts estimate the value of the domestic market to be worth well over $20 billion within the next decade. And with the United States providing far and away the biggest potential global cannabis marketplace, “getting in early” on the action and establishing a foundation in the industry would most likely be a wise move for future market dominance.
What’s more, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has recently been quoted as saying that President Trump will likely move to legalize cannabis nationwide after the midterm elections, which took place this past week (November 6) across the nation.
“I think he’s going to legalize marijuana,” Scaramucci says. “I think he’s waiting for after the midterms. I think he’s on the side of legalization.”
While “The Mooch,” as he’s widely known, hasn’t been the most reliable source of information over the years, he is not the only one who has come out with initial reports that Mr. Trump may lean towards the “green” side of the fence:
“I would expect after the [midterm] election we will sit down and we’ll start hammering out something that is specific and real,” says U.S. House of Representative member Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).
While nothing at all is set and stone and there is still a long, long way to go, it would appear that the “cannabis stars” are aligning if nationwide legalization were ever to take place. There is surely an endless amount of money to be made in the market, and if the U.S. were ever to go fully legal, it would surely open up the floodgates for worldwide legalization, which ultimately is the goal of every cannabis activist on the planet.
Whatever ends up happening, it’s certainly an exciting time for weed lovers everywhere.