A wave of recent polls shows that majorities of voters in five states, and a majority nationwide, support legalizing medical marijuana. Many voters also support legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
Eighty percent of Florida’s registered voters would support a state constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. While support drops when voters are asked about recreational use, the issue still garners a majority with 56 percent for it and 41 percent against.
Ohio’s House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. Ninety percent of Ohio voters support the measure while full legalization has a narrow majority of support at 52 percent to 45 percent.
Rhode Island is much more open to the idea. Sixty-seven percent of voters there support the state’s current law allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. A majority, 55 percent, support passing a law to legalize it for recreational use. The same proportion of registered and likely voters in Maine supports full legalization in that state.
Even in conservative Utah, about 66 percent of all voters, including 55 percent of Republicans, support the legalization of medical marijuana.
A recent CBS national poll of adults found that 56 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization and 36 percent of adults disapprove of it. Almost 90 percent say medical marijuana use should be allowed.
Opinion has changed drastically on this issue over time. In a 1979 CBS national poll, only 27 percent of Americans supported marijuana legalization while 69 percent wanted it to remain illegal. That’s a gain of 29 percentage points for legalization.
According to Gallup, the reason for the shift is that newer generations are more inclined to accept legalization.
But even as time goes on, older generations are increasingly supportive of legalization. When Gallup first asked the question in 1969, only 20 percent of those born between 1936 and 1950 supported the idea. Last year, support from people born in those years, who are now 65-79 years old, increased to 40 percent.
The only age group that did not show any stark changes in levels of support were those born in 1935 and earlier and grew up in a time where the vast majority of people didn’t support marijuana use. From 1969 to 2015 support for legalization only rose from 8 percent to 19 percent among that group.