Monday, October 19, 2009

Gallup Poll Shows Record Support for Marijuana Legalization

A poll out today from Gallup shows record-high support for legalizing marijuana, at 44%.
PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's October Crime poll finds 44% of Americans in favor of making marijuana legal and 54% opposed. U.S. public support for legalizing marijuana was fixed in the 25% range from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but acceptance jumped to 31% in 2000 and has continued to grow throughout this decade.
Check out Gallup's own site for more information, including demographic breakdowns.


  1. I read a good point about this poll in another blog. The author pointed out that there are plenty of people who would privately tell a pollster they support legalization, but wouldn't be willing to voice that opinion in their social or professional circles. That implies that we'll probably need to see significantly more than a simple majority before legalization can really take off.

    This actually reflects other data that MPP has discussed. A while back they posted about a survey that was done including two questions. The first was a simple legalization question, similar to the one asked for this poll (with similar results).

    The second question asked the person whether he or she thought that a majority of voters in the state supported legalization. The numbers came back much, much lower. So we don't even realize how many of us are on the same side here.

    That, of course, is where groups like LEAP and MPP step in. Publicity is a very important aspect of this effort, not only to change the minds of prohibitionists, but to demonstrate to would-be reformers that they are not alone.

  2. I think I've heard Ethan Nadelmann say that MJ won't be legalized until polls show support at 60%.

    A 2008 Angus Reid poll showed support for legalization in Canada at around 53% nationally, which is amazing. In British Columbia, a spring 2009 Angus Reid poll showed 65% support for "legalize marijuana" when respondents were asked this question:

    "The illegal marijuana industry is linked to much of the gang violence on BC’s streets. Some people say that violence would be reduced if marijuana was legalized, while other people say the violence would be reduced if penalties for marijuana trafficking were significantly increased. Which of the following statements is closest to your
    own view?"

    Some drug policy reformers feel that if marijuana is legalized first, support for legalizing heroin, cocaine and other drugs will disappear because the MJ crowd will lose interest. But I'm not so sure... I think the world needs a *recent* successful example of legalization before it will be ready to begin legalizing some of the more serious drugs... and marijuana would be the logical place to start. Just my 2 cents.

  3. Interesting. I've always been a little irked that Canadian drug policy doesn't get much air time down here. I'd especially like to learn more about how US prohibition informs Canadian policy. The case of Marc Emery makes it clear that we're flexing our muscles to impose our will up north, and I wonder how pervasive that is.

    And yeah, I just don't think there are many folks out there who currently want to see legalization of all drugs, but who will be placated with just marijuana legalization. Now it's obvious that marijuana legalization is a much more mainstream position that allowing the regulated sale of all substances, but I don't think the latter position would lose much momentum (if any) were pot to be legalized.

  4. To Rhayader:
    You say "... I don't think the latter position would lose much momentum (if any) were pot to be legalized".
    Granted, prohibition of any commodity with significant demand within the population is a stupid tactic, and it becomes even more absurd with commodities that are inelastic in demand, such as physically addictive opiates. Obviously, this should be a public health concern rather than a criminal problem. These commodities should be available at their true market value, most likely through medical clinics that offer counseling to consumers who use. The money saved from interdiction, prosecution and incarceration could fund those clinics, with enough left over to build brand new schools or hospitals for America's citizens. However, I don't see that viewpoint having any tangible momentum to lose.

  5. However, I don't see that viewpoint having any tangible momentum to lose.

    Hah, yeah that's sort of what I was saying; the mainstream pot decriminalization/legalization contingent is much larger than, and wholly separate from, the camp calling for the legalization of all drugs.

    There is some overlap -- by definition, everyone who holds the larger "end prohibition" stance will also support marijuana legalization -- but there are many people who want to see pot legal but keep "hard" drugs prohibited. Like I said in response to David, I don't see legalization of pot having much effect on the more dedicated anti-prohibition crowd one way or the other.

  6. Here is the 2007 Angus Reid poll on legalizing MJ in Canada:

    And here is the 2008 Angus Reid poll:

    Not bad, eh?


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