Last week's massive cannabis reform victories sent a clear message that the vast majority of all Americans support cannabis legalization, regardless of political affiliation. And if that message hasn't yet struck a chord with federal lawmakers, a new Gallup poll confirms that majority support for weed reform is no fluke.
In a survey of 1,035 adults conducted between September 30 and October 15, Gallup found support for federal adult-use legalization has climbed to a record-breaking 68 percent. In their analysis of the survey, Gallup notes that the percentage of adults “who currently back the measure is not statistically different from last year's 66%; however, it is nominally Gallup's highest reading, exceeding the 64% to 66% range seen from 2017 to 2019.”
The Gallup agency has actually been tracking Americans' support for legalization (among other things) since 1969, when only 12 percent of respondents said they were down with pot. Support climbed to around 25 percent between the 1970s and 1990s, eventually breaking the 30 percent threshold in 2000. But in the past two decades, support has more than doubled, hitting 50 percent by 2010 and leveling off at 66 percent in 2018 and '19 before reaching this year's peak.
Gallup also recorded the highest-ever levels of support among several important demographics. Around 83 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents expressed their support for legalization, the highest percentages Gallup has seen for those demographics. And in another historic first, the agency reported majority support for legalization among every single age demographic, from Gen Z to the Silent Generation.
Majority support for legal pot now exists among nearly all demographics, regardless of gender, education, or household income. In fact, the only groups who are still opposed to weed are Republicans, conservatives, and highly religious people. Support among Republicans fell to 48 percent this year, down from a slight majority of 51 percent last year. Only 48 percent of respondents who said they attend church every week said they were in favor of legalization, as opposed to 59 percent who said they attend on a monthly basis.
“The trajectory of the public's support for the legalization of marijuana has coincided with an increasing number of states approving it,” Gallup explains. “It is not entirely clear whether the shift in public opinion has caused the change in many state laws or vice versa. Given recent trends, more states are likely to legalize recreational marijuana in the future. Considering the high level of public support for such a measure, a change in federal policy could even occur.”
Regardless of the chicken-or-egg question of whether statewide legalization is influencing public opinion or vice versa, cannabis advocates believe that the 2020 election results will finally influence the federal government to back down on prohibition.
“This is what voters want,” pro-cannabis lawmaker Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment. “They’re not partisan issues, it’s an opportunity for Republicans to be able to make progress in their red states and bring people together at a time of division. I think you’re going to watch people understand what just happened [after the election], and it is a continuation of progress that’s been going on since 1996. I think it’s going to be much easier [to pass reform] in the new Congress, with Republicans and Democrats, both in the House and Senate.”