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.
A 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.