Poll: Majorities of Democrats and Independents Support Legalization of Marijuana

In less than a month, people will be able to legally purchase and use marijuana recreationally in Colorado thanks to the state’s landmark marijuana law that takes effect January 1. Americans nationally, however, are still divided on whether marijuana should be legalized.

In the latest Reason-Rupe poll, 49 percent of Americans told Reason-Rupe that they favor the legalization of marijuana while 47 percent say they are opposed.

Majorities of Democrats (55 percent) and independents (51 percent) favor marijuana legalization, as do 37 percent of Republicans. Instead, a majority (59 percent) of Republicans opposed legalizing marijuana. Despite the libertarian streak in the tea party movement, a majority (54 percent) of tea partiers also oppose making marijuana legal, while Republicans who don’t identify with the movement are slightly more likely to oppose (61 percent).

Support for legalization increases with education and declines with age. Forty-six percent of those with a high school education or less support legalization, while 54 percent of college graduates and 57 percent of post-graduates are in favor of legalizing marijuana. In addition, 56 percent of Americans under 35 favor making marijuana legal, middle aged Americans are evenly divided, and 60 percent of those over 65 oppose such a policy change.

January 2013 Reason-Rupe poll asked the question slightly differently, by asking if Americans favored or opposed the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Similarly, 47 percent favored and 49 percent opposed. Interestingly, asking about recreational use depressed Republican support to only 25 percent, while the December 2013 poll which did not mention “recreational use” found Republican support as high as 37 percent. Both time and wording have bolstered Republican support; particularly emphasizing marijuana as a “recreational” activity is likely counterproductive to convincing social conservatives to support reform.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted Dec 4-8 2013 interviewed 1011 adults on both mobile (506) and landline (505) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.

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  • Drake||

    The majority of Republicans can be convinced by presenting them with the full bill for the Drug War. The DEA, the prison and court costs, local enforcement, etc... And the infringement on civil liberties.

    Offer to chop the DEA by 50% and most Republicans are sold.

  • Doctor Whom||

    I'd like to think so, but I'm not optimistic. I've found that for many Republicans, all of that talk about smaller, less expensive government is just that -- talk. When the subject turns to Team Red brand statism, they do a 180.

  • John||

    They do a 180 on drugs a lot of them. But they should be constantly called out for that. People have got to learn that once you say "hey we need a law to give me my pony", you no longer have much standing to object when a liberal does the same thing.

    Yeah, you think pot is horrible. Well, Nanny Bloomburg thinks large sodas and guns are horrible. Who are you to say he is wrong and you are right?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Who are you to say he is wrong and you are right?"

    Well, 'marijuana' sounds foreign, possibly even Mexican, while sodas and guns are long time American goods!

  • Marshall Gill||

    Yep, I am pretty sure that marijuana was invented in Mexico.

  • CE||

    Republicans love them some law enforcement.

  • sarcasmic||

    Majorities of politicians and police don't give a shit.

  • Drake||

    The root of the problem there.

  • John||

    The root of the problem is that the majority of voters think it is okay for the government to tell people what they can do with their own bodies. Sure, some of them are okay with you using the devil weed, but that is not because they think you have any rights. It is just because they either like the weed themselves or don't see anything wrong with it.

  • Robert||

    That, but more because of culture war + sadism. They want to stick it to certain sectors by depriving them of what they want, and vice versa. So one sector wants to deprive the other of pot, the other sector wants to deprive the one of guns & large sodas, just because they like to make the other guys sad & angry. And to a slight degree (not enough to make up most of it, but adding a little to the numbers & effect), the sector that's put upon in each case enjoys being the victim, because it shows they're getting their enemy's att'n, so they must be important to them.

    There would be almost nothing behind pot prohib'n were it not for a desire to stick it to 1st Mexicans, then niggers, then hippies, and finally yuppies. And to some degree some of those victims (particularly the hippies) wanted to identify as victims, so they mutually reinforce the taboo and the laws. I'm not saying most voters are in these categories; a lot of them are under the influence of their more influential friends, however, who are culture warriors. The others are in a medical-legal fog abetted by the culture warriors; the fog just causes the go-alongs to see the status quo as probably a good thing because drugs are medicine and experts on medicine and law have decreed it so.

  • Lord Humungus||

    yay! Another poll. Precious, precious pollz

  • CE||

    Can Emily explain it for us?

  • John||

    Republican support to only 25 percent, while the December 2013 poll which did not mention “recreational use” found Republican support as high as 37 percent.

    I wonder how much of this is the result of older people being more Republican. The other thing is how much is older people being against this is the result of a real generation gap or the result of people regardless of generation becoming more of a nanny pain in the ass as they get older.

    You see these statistics and get a sense of optimism thinking that things will change as the older generation dies off. But I am not sure. Drug prohibition may be like opera. For decades people have been predicting the doom of opera because the average age of opera goers is like 65. The predictions are always wrong because it is not that this is the last generation that likes opera it is that some of every generation likes opera, they just as a general rule start liking it until they are older. Let's hope drug prohibition is not the same.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I am not usually much of a Veblen fan, but I would bet that if some people 'start liking opera' when they get older it is because it is a form of conspicuous consumption for them. Opera is what people who have 'made it' are supposed to like, so for some, once they have 'made it' or think they have, they give opera a try.

  • John||

    There is some of that. It is also a great "prom date" for adults. Women love to dress up and go out but since most people don't do that anymore, there are not a lot of opportunities. Opera is one of them. If you made Opera casual and stopped giving women an excuse to pull out their evening wear, it would be a lot less popular.

    But I will say this, like a lot of things it is an acquired taste. My wife loves the stuff. But she always has. She has always been an amateur vocalist. Having been drug to more than a few productions over the years, I have to admit I like them more than I thought I would.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I have only seen a few (a student's income does not allow for many, but sometimes students get breaks to see them). I did not care much for them, but I did see a big production of one of Wagner's that was good.

  • John||

    Wagner can be a tough chew. I like the Italian stuff probably the best, Puccini and Verdi. Those are pretty approachable but not as light and ridiculous as some of the Mozart stuff.

    What surprised me the most about them is how many of the numbers were really just pop tunes. They often contain these three and four minute pieces that are remarkably melodic and were clearly written for the same purpose popular music is today. The other thing I don't think most people realize is how low brow many of them are. You can't get much more "high art" than Opera. But a lot of even the great operas are nothing but soap operas with catchy tunes.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I guess I am a philistine in that it was not the music that made me like the Wagner production but the big budget set pieces and Vikings with swords fighting.

  • bix||

    I like dem big ol' titays dem gurls got.

  • BillG883||

    From polls I've seen it appears that support is growing fastest is among voters 65 and older. The majority in that bracket are still opposed, but that opposition is eroding as more Baby Boomers hit 65. I think that's because the higher the percentage of people have tried pot in a particular group, the higher the percentage of that group that supports legalization, whether we're talking about people in a certain age bracket or different sexes or religious backgrounds or whatever.

    Support among the oldest Boomers isn't as high as support among those a few years younger. I attribute this to the fact that the oldest Boomers came of age in a time when pot use was just taking off, and many grew up and started families and so on before they'd even seen pot. Only around 25% of the first Boomers born in 1946 ever tried pot, according to government survey data, but over half of Boomers born since 1953 or so tried it. Thus, we would expect to see support for legalization correspondingly lower among the oldest Boomers.

    I don't think it's that people change so much as they age. Those who came of age before pot use took off in this country are a tough sell. Having more and more Boomers hitting the senior citizen ranks and introducing new ideas might change that some, but what's really changing things the most is the fact that the oldest seniors are dying off. Somewhere around 1.8 million over 65 will die every year in this country, while around 10,000 Baby Boomers a day hit 65.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    At least the majority of one party is thinking of the children.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Oh, come on, Fist! I am sure that a majority of Democrats are not pedophiles.

  • chris3145||

    Hahaha if you mean that one party that wants to continue to allow teens/children 24/7/365 access to marijuana hahaha suppression doesnt work.....and BTW am part of the 37%-25% of that party for legalization......the reason legalization is so low is republicans love to hate those hippies darkies and wetbacks......they love their stereo types makes figuring things out a lot easier for the authoritarian wing of the republican party

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Majorities of Democrats (55 percent) and independents (51 percent) favor marijuana legalization"

    Given the stance on legalization of most Democrat politicians I guess we can also conclude that these people are not single issue voters in any way.

  • bix||

    Or, there's no viable better alternative.

  • Dave Krueger||

    What this poll really shows is how similar the parties are in the U.S.

    War is supported by both parties. Corporate welfare is supported by both parties. Entitlements are supported by both parties. The drug war is supported by both parties. Police militarization has been supported by both parties. Deficit spending has been supported by both parties. Bailouts have been supported by both parties. The erosion of civil liberties is supported by both parties. Big government is supported by both parties. The list is endless.

    And, independents are usually republican or democrat leaning people who just want to pretend they are different.

  • CE||

    Republicans and Democrats are really both Nationalist Socialist parties. One being more nationalist and one more socialist.

  • Dave Krueger||

    Nice. I'm gonna steal that.

  • gaoxiaen||

    You forgot to add "slightly". Twice.

  • Spartacus||

    In addition, 56 percent of Americans under 35 favor making marijuana legal, middle aged Americans are evenly divided, and 60 percent of those over 65 oppose such a policy change.

    Progress occurs one funeral at a time.

  • BillG883||

    That's terrible, but true in this particular instance. Grassroots effort helped change public opinion. The internet played a big part. The reality that the war on pot hasn't put a dent in supply or demand has helped change minds, but what has driven the steady increase in support more than anything else has been the steady dying off of those most opposed to legalization. If you grew up since marijuana use took off in this country, odds are you've smoked it and odds are you think it's a bad idea to continue with this prohibition that does us more harm than good. There are a whole lot more of those voters in this country now than there were twenty or thirty years ago, and whole lot less of those who came before pot use took off in this country who tend to be strongly opposed to legalization.

  • BillG883||

    Good to see more for legalization than against it. I bet support would have been higher had the question been asked differently. When they ask only whether it should be legalized, some people are going to think "legal like tomatoes." When they talk about taxing it and regulating it similar to alcohol with age restrictions and so on more people support it. Few people want it legal like tomatoes, but a lot think it should be legal for adults with at least all the same restrictions we have on alcohol sales and consumption, driving under the influence and all that.

  • CE||

    And yet Obama laughed it off when legalization was the number one question on "Ask the Prez"....

  • bix||

    Pretty sure having to drive to the store for your super sized soda is not the same thing as being handcuffed and thrown in jail for a year.

  • bix||

    People forget so quickly! Or, likely, were pre-political 6 years ago. Just wait until another GOP gets elected. You'll see all the progress on marijuana (such as it is) rolled back, quick as spit. Bank on it. The social conservatives are a plague the GOP has yet to throw off, as evidenced by this poll. Did you note that the only reason Republican approval is as high as it is, is because the pollsters left off the wording of 'recreational use'? When 'recreational use' is included in the question, approval goes down to what? 24% lol.

  • bix||

    Reason magazine, huh? What a misnomer that was.

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