CNN Finds Most Americans Want to Legalize Pot, Demonstrating It Is Just As Unreliable As Gallup

Senate Judiciary CommitteeSenate Judiciary CommitteeLast October, after a survey found that 58 percent of Americans want to legalize marijuana, anti-pot activist Kevin Sabet said the results must be wrong, because it was inconceivable that so many people disagreed with him, and whoever heard of this "Gallup Poll," anyway? Just kidding. Sabet actually said Gallup's sample was too small, although it was just as big as the samples used in two other surveys that he deemed more trustworthy (possibly because they put support for legalization below 50 percent). Now CNN reports that in its latest poll 55 percent of respondents said marijuana should be legal, while 44 percent said it should not. CNN notes that the results "are similar to [those of] a Gallup poll conducted in October."

Sabet also complained that Gallup "asked about marijuana use, not sales and production." CNN asked about distribution as well as consumption, and 54 percent of respondents said "the sale of marijuana should be made legal." As I pointed out last fall, other recent polls likewise have found majority support for legalizing the marijuana business. Apparently Americans are not as terrified as Sabet thinks they should be by the prospect of "Big Marijuana."

While it's true that some recent polls do not find majority support for legalization, the overall trend is unmistakable:

According to the CNN poll and numbers from General Social Survey polling, support for legalizing marijuana has steadily soared over the past quarter century—from 16% in 1987 to 26% in 1996, 34% in 2002, and 43% two years ago.

Gallup has found a similar increase:

Public support for legalization more than doubled in the 1970s, growing to 28%. It then plateaued during the 1980s and 1990s before inching steadily higher since 2000, reaching 50% in 2011.

Consistent with this trend, polls typically find an inverse correlation between age and support for legalization. Here is the age breakdown in the CNN poll:

Two-thirds of those 18 to 34 said marijuana should be legal, with 64% of those 34 to 49 in agreement.

Half of those 50 to 64 believe marijuana should be legal, but that number dropped to 39% for those age 65 and older.

Maybe the Gallup and CNN numbers exaggerate support for legalization. Perhaps the 50 percent threshold won't really be crossed until next year or the year after. But one thing is clear: Sabet is losing.

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  • Doctor Whom||

    A certain quote attributed to Pauline Kael comes to mind.

  • Rich||

    Please enlighten me.

  • Andrew S.||

    In 1972, she's said to have said something to the effect of "I don't know how Nixon was elected. Nobody I know voted for him". I don't think she actually said it, but hey.

  • ||

    It was more that she didn't know anyone who voted for Nixon and how this demonstrated the bubble the media lives in. It was more self-aware than amazement at his election.

  • Mainer2||

    ‘I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.’”

  • ||

    The two people I know of who voted for Nixon passed away in 1998 (Dad) and 1999 (Mom).

  • Rich||

    Ima guess it's "This movie is a toupee made up to look like honest baldness."

  • Calidissident||

    To me, Sabet seems like the most pathetic sort of statist. I can at least understand the sort of person who dedicates themselves to implementing universal health care, or event the person dedicated to keeping crack or meth illegal, even if I disagree with them. I can't understand how someone could care as much as Sabet does about keeping marijuana illegal.

  • Rich||

    *** clutches pearls ***

    My God, it's for the CHILDREN!!

  • Spartacus||

    He cares because he earns a good income off of prohibition.

  • Rich||

    This.

    "But that's incidental!"

  • Calidissident||

    True. But isn't this the guy that won an award when he was in high school for anti-marijuana activism? How sad was his childhood?

  • anon||

    He definitely wasn't part of the Kool Kids Klub.

  • Spartacus||

    To amplify a bit, from Wikipedia:

    "It is noted that he has a personal financial interest in perpetuating his theories, such as promoting his anti-marijuana book on his website, and the speaking and consulting fees he receives. His appointment as assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida is under scrutiny by groups opposed to Sabet, such as Alnernet.org, who note he has no education, no experience, no credentials, and no background in psychiatry."

  • Rich||

    Oh.

    Well then: assistant "professor" of psychiatry.

  • R C Dean||

    he has no education, no experience, no credentials, and no background in psychiatry.

    Sounds like tenure track, to me!

  • ||

    One of the most positive aspects of the WA / CO legalization process will be to show the states don't devolve into Somalia. Of course, there will be an endless parade of OMGZ 2 YEARZ OLD WID THC anecdotal stories to try and prove otherwise. But the lack of true issues will finally, and firmly, entrench legalization into the public consciousness.

  • Rich||

    the lack of true issues will finally, and firmly, entrench legalization into the public consciousness.

    I've been hearing this for decades.

    And "public consciousness" =/= "legalization".

  • ||

    I've been hearing this for decades.

    Yes, but we've been tip-toeing around it with all of this Decriminalization / Medical Marijuana bullshit.

  • Rich||

    And "we" still are.

  • Jordan||

    Well, we already have that example in the form of Portugal. Of course, most Americans probably couldn't find Portugal on a map, so your point probably still stands.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I don't think we could get much support behind the legalization of Portugal. Those Iberian states are a tad controversial.

  • Jordan||

    Clearly, we need a War On Portugal! As a bonus, the Keynesian stimulus effect of carpet bombing their cities will boost their ailing economy.

  • waffles||

    Hey man, did they ever find the cookie?

  • AgrarianBarbarian||

    Republicans are stupid. If they came out in support of legalization, they'd sew up the youth vote for the next two generations, win the next 4 or 5 presidential elections, and knock the whole Ruy Texiera / demographic demise narrative on its ass. At the same time, they wouldn't "lose" the base - who are they gonna vote for, the Democrats? Plus, its ideologically consistent. All the arguments for drug prohibition are identical to the ones for gun control. It's impossible to be both "pro-gun" AND "anti-drug" without refuting your own best arguments. Mark my words, the party that gloms on to this first will OWN the next 20 years.

  • Rich||

    Mark my words, the party that gloms on to this first will OWN the next 20 years.

    LP FTW!

  • wareagle||

    you're asking a political party to give up state power, state control over an activity that a good many see as borderline evil.

    It would make good sense to say "look, we've spent umpteen billion in this drug war and prohibition was no more successful this time" but a lot of cronies in LE depend on drug money for all their shiny toys. And when has good sense factored into political decision-making?

  • R C Dean||

    Mark my words, the party that gloms on to this first will OWN the next 20 years.

    Yeah, no. The Free Shit Brigade won't switch parties no matter what, so your hope of poaching committed Dem constituencies is zero.

    You might pick up some "undecided"/unaligned types, and probably will on net, but enough to guarantee a generation of dominance?

    No way. Might pick up a few close elections in one cycle.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Is there any form of life lower than a professional anti-pot activist?

  • Rich||

    A *drunk* professional anti-pot activist?

  • CE||

    Is there any other kind?

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Epi's mother... or so I've hear...

  • Brett L||

    The people who think MADD doesn't take drunk driving seriously enough?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Speaking of pearl clutchers...

    For the makers of electronic cigarettes, today we are living in the Wild West -- a lawless frontier where they can say or do whatever they want, no matter what the consequences.

    Big Tobacco desperately needs new nicotine addicts and is up to its old tricks to make sure it gets them. E-cigarettes are being aggressively marketed to children with flavors like Bazooka Bubble Gum, Cap'n Crunch and Cotton Candy. Joe Camel was killed in the 1990s, but cartoon characters are back promoting e-cigarettes.
    Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, whether delivered in a conventional cigarette or their electronic counterparts. The potential harm from exposure to secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes is unknown. Two initial studies have found formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (a well-known carcinogen) coming from those secondhand emissions. We commend New York City recently for banning the use of e-cigarettes indoors.

    Ohh nohz!

  • John||

    I love how "addictive" is just assumed to mean "harmful". So what if it is addictive? Exercise is addictive too for some people.

  • ||

    I'm not sure there's anything that's pleasurable which is not addictive.

    Which is why the whole Addiction = Disease is so asinine. FFS, life is all about moderation. Push to the edge in anything and you'll increase the risk of adverse consequences.

  • wareagle||

    disease became a way of moving some things under the blanket of insurance. Addictions have been known to get out of hand. Some folks need help to get back on track.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Exactly. I'm addicted to eating food. I have a biological impulse to eat food. Is that harmful in and of itself? No. Not controlling that addiction and eating large amounts of food regularly is. But food is not the problem, lack of self control is the problem. And that is a personal problem that is nobody else's business.

  • John||

    My father in law ignored his doctors and never changed his diet such that he has gotten Type II diabetes so badly that he is losing his sight and hearing and a lot of other parts of his health. He was never enormously overweight. But he had a genetic pre disposition for it and just never changed his diet and now is left with this.

    I fail to see how the cost, pain and grief he has inflicted on himself and his family via eating is any different or better than if he had been a heroin addict all of these years.

    Basically, you can harm yourself with virtually anything if you choose to. There is nothing special about drugs. We just like to think there is because the people that abuse them like to have an excuse for their poor decisions.

  • anon||

    Push to the edge in anything and you'll increase the risk of adverse consequences.

    Yes, this is true for hookers & sex in general too.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I've been trolling over at teh CNN the last few days. I've noticed a trend. (Although I'm surely biased)

    There seem to be more libertarian commenters than I've ever seen before. I was commenting on a story yesterday about the Millennials whining about wages. $15 min wage...

    They got their asses handed to them in the comments.

    I glimmer of hope...or self delusion. Either way it made me happy.

  • John||

    I think it is a glimmer of hope. My guess is that those "libertarian" commenters are not really libertarians as much as apolitical people who have, because things have gotten so shitty, finally taken an interest in politics and come to the conclusion a lot of things the government is doing is idiotic. And that is a good thing.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I welcome them.

  • anon||

    Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, whether delivered in a conventional cigarette or their electronic counterparts. The potential harm from exposure to secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes is unknown. Two initial studies have found formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (a well-known carcinogen) coming from those secondhand emissions. We commend New York City recently for banning the use of e-cigarettes indoors.

    Calling bullshit.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Calling bullshit.

    What do you mean? I'd bet they really do commend NYC for banning ecigs indoors.

  • Dave Krueger||

    If you subtract out everyone who benefits from the drug war (drug enforcement cops, prosecutors, judges, treatment industry workers, prison workers, parole officers, bail bondsmen, liquor industry workers, drug dog industry workers, and pharmaceutical employees), the numbers are probably a lot more favorable to pot legalization.

  • CE||

    Another example why net tax recipients shouldn't get to vote, only net tax payers.

  • CE||

    When Colorado doesn't degenerate into anarchy, madness and face-eating, it will be hard for other states to argue against it. Especially when they realize all of the tax and tourism dollars they are leaving on the table.

  • ImanAzol||

    I've never heard of a Kevin Sabet, therefore it doesn't exist.

  • Paul Pot||

    The Sabets of this world fail to acknowledge 2 things.
    Prohibition is a total lie.
    And most people have first hand experience with marijuana or the people who use it.
    And as reform spreads, more people have experience with it and so support for reform keeps growing.
    Mr. Sabet has chosen to side with the losing team.
    Now that we have three real world models for legal marijuana, it will be impossible to hide the lie of prohibition.
    Marijuana will be legal in most western nations by the end of the decade.

  • ||

    Somebody should ask this lame-brain to please point out which of the 18 Enumerated Powers authorizes Congress to throw people into iron cages for smoking dried flowers.

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