A strong majority of Americans believe that cannabis legalization should be the federal government's top priority, according to a new poll.
Last week, Emerson College Polling asked 1,429 American adults to share their opinions on several popular US policy proposals. Among other issues, each respondent was asked whether they thought the US government should legalize weed, rejoin the Paris climate accord, establish a $15 federal minimum wage, or grant undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.
Out of all of these policy proposals, cannabis was the most popular by far. A full 61 percent of respondents said they thought federal legalization was a good idea, while 39 percent were opposed. Rejoining the Paris climate agreement was the next most popular proposal, supported by 57 percent of respondents, followed by immigration reform (55 percent) and a $15 minimum wage (54 percent).
This poll closely mirrors the results of other surveys conducted over the past couple of years. A similar poll from last year found that legal weed was the fifth-most popular topic out of 20 different policy issues, beating out a minimum wage increase, free college tuition, or an assault rifle ban. Other recent polls have seen support for legalization grow from 66 to 70 percent in the past two years, and another survey found that 76 percent of Americans believe federal weed legalization is inevitable.
Like many of these polls, Emerson's new survey found that younger, more liberal adults were more likely to support legal weed than older or more conservative people. In the current poll, 74 percent of Democrats said they approved of legalization, compared to 60 percent of independents and 46 percent of Republicans. Support was lowest (43 percent) among people who voted for Trump last year, and highest (76 percent) among those who voted for Biden.
A majority of almost every age bracket said they thought legal weed was a good idea. Seventy-nine percent of 18-29-year-olds, 67 percent of 30-44-year-olds, and 57 percent of 46-64-year-olds said they approved, compared with only 38 percent of seniors 65 and older. Adult-use legalization also saw majority support in every racial and ethnic demographic, ranging from 67 percent of Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders to 56 percent of Hispanic or Latino voters.
Pollsters also looked at the geographic location of the respondents and found that those living in urban areas were more likely (66 percent) to support legalization than those living in suburban (60 percent) or rural areas (54 percent). Americans living on the West Coast were most likely to approve of legal weed (62 percent), followed by residents of the Midwest (62 percent), the Northeast (61 percent), and the South (58 percent).