All the Polls Say Majority of Americans Favor Marijuana Legalization
Today's offering is from the Pew Research Center, which has been gauging the public's desire on drug policy since the 1960s. And "for the first time in more than four decades," Pew is recording a majority in favor of ending the war on the magic plant, with 52 percent of our nation's citizens in favor of legalization, to 45 percent still hanging onto Prohibition mentality.
It seems indisputable that legalization is the will of the people. So how are those legalization measures in Congress faring? (Hint: not well).
The Pew poll is consistent with earlier surveys of public opinion, including a Field poll conducted earlier this year and a Gallup poll released in 2011. Add that to a Rasmussen Reports poll done last year, and the message is clear.
Millennials -- that wired generation of whippersnappers between the ages of 18 and 32 for whom the Cold War is a mythical fairy tale -- are driving the result; roughly 65 percent of that population is in favor (which is a pure reversal from 2008, when only 36 percent were in favor -- thank goodness for the Internet attention span). However, all generations are showing attitude shifts on the issue.
For the first time, an even 50 percent of Baby Boomers are in favor of marijuana legalization -- double from 1994, according to the poll. And senior citizens' support has increased from 17 percent in favor to 32 percent.
Across party lines and generation gaps, Americans think that the federal government's law enforcement efforts against marijuana is pointless, with 72 percent responding that eradication efforts "aren't worth the time."
There are remnants of reefer madness among us, though. About 32 percent of the 1,551 respondents say that marijuana is morally wrong, and 51 percent of the country says it'd be uncomfortable if people around them used marijuana.
That said, the tide of public opinion is clearly turning. Will policy be close behind?
"It's time for politicians to catch up to the voters on this issue," said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority. "Not too long ago, it was widely accepted in political circles that elected officials who wanted to get re-elected needed to act 'tough' on drugs and go out of their way to support the continued criminalization of marijuana. The opposite is quickly becoming true."
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) introduced a legalization measure in Congress in February. Similar in language to measures introduced by Ron Paul and Barney Frank, the bill is meeting a similar fate: it has not yet been called for a committee hearing or for a vote, which in Washington means it's not going anywhere.
It would seem, however, that avoiding the issue won't be an option much longer.