Americans may be coming around to the idea of legalizing marijuana, but, according to a new survey, most aren't prepared to see bars and restaurants offer areas where customers can light up.
A new HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 49 percent of Americans say that in states where marijuana is legal, bars and restaurants should totally ban smoking the substance inside. Thirty-six percent said bars and restaurants should set aside certain areas where smoking marijuana is permitted, and only 4 percent said bars and restaurants should have no restrictions on smoking marijuana.
In contrast, 46 percent of Americans surveyed think bars and restaurants should set aside certain areas for cigarette smoking, while 44 percent said bars and restaurants should ban it completely. For both marijuana and cigarettes, only 4 percent said there should be no restrictions at all on smoking in restaurants.
Respondents to the survey also said, by a 50 percent to 36 percent margin, that marijuana policies for bars and restaurants should be determined by state governments rather than be up to the establishments themselves. For cigarette smoking policies, more respondents said that those should be set by the bars and restaurants themselves, 49 percent to 41 percent.
Respondents to the survey who said they were independents were more likely than either Democrats or Republicans to say that bars and restaurants should set aside areas where marijuana smoking is permitted and that bars and restaurants should set their own policies. Republicans were the most likely to say both that marijuana smoking should be banned in bars and restaurants (66 percent to 22 percent over allowing marijuana in some areas) and that state laws should determine whether it is banned in those places or not (59 percent to 30 percent).
Interestingly, Republicans were also the most likely to say that cigarette smoking should be banned in bars and restaurants (50 percent said it should be), but along with independents were also the most likely to say that bars and restaurants should determine their own cigarette smoking policies (52 percent).
Older adults were also more likely than younger adults both to say that marijuana should be banned completely in bars and restaurants and that state governments should determine whether bars and restaurants can allow marijuana smoking.
Smoking cigarettes in most indoor public places, including most bars and restaurants, is already illegal in the two states that recently legalized recreational marijuana use, but a recent Reuters story reported that at least one bar in Washington planned to begin allowing patrons to smoke marijuana. According to Reuters, the bar had already skirted the state's cigarette smoking ban by establishing a separate room that was technically a private club with small annual membership dues.
Although respondents to the new HuffPost/YouGov survey would prefer not to see marijuana smoking in bars and restaurants become legal, polls have trended in the direction of more permissive views on whether marijuana should be legal. Along with recent polls showing that most Americans say marijuana should be legal, another recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found that most Americans would prefer that the federal government not enforce its drug laws in states that have legalized marijuana.
The new HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Dec. 11-12 among 1,000 U.S. adults. It has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points, though that inherent variation does not take into account other potential sources of error including statistical bias in the sample. It used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, and interest in politics, religion and church.