California Continues to Be Less Hippie Than Expected: Only 46 Percent of Residents Support Marijuana Legalization


Much was made of the 2011 Gallup poll which noted that for the first time a majority — well, 50 percent, so no longer a minority! — of respondents supported marijuana legalization. This contrasted nicely (for fans of less government, that is) with the minuscule 12 percent support for legalization in 1969 when the question was first asked by Gallup and even the relatively restrained 36 percent support for legalization in 2006. Things are moving in the right way!

Much was also made of the frustrating 7-point loss of California's Prop. 19 in 2010, which would have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Medical use has been legal since 1996, in spite of various federal crackdowns (especially lately). 2012 will no doubt bring further pushes for legalization, since marijuana legalization has suddenly become a non-fringe political cause supported by serious people, but those might be more likely to succeed in Colorado or other places less divided than the supposedly hippie-tastic soialist paradise. After all, a new Los Angeles Times poll of 1000 voters showed a-less-than-national-average support for legalization of weed in California—46 percent. Notes The Washington Post:

The USC/LA Times poll found California voters overwhelmingly support doctor-recommended use of marijuana for the severely ill, with about 80 percent in favor of medical marijuana for the terminally ill and severely disabled.

The San Francisco Bay Area was the only region in the state where a majority — 55 percent — favors legalization. That compares with 41 percent in Southern California.

Those against marijuana use were more adamant in their position, with 42 percent feeling "strongly" about it compared with 33 percent for proponents.

Twenty-eight percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats polled liked the idea of marijuana legalization. Sixty-eight percent of Independents favor it.

The poll also noted:

less than 38% said they had indulged in pot for pleasure at least once in their lives — and 9% had in the last year. The questioners did not ask whether those who used the drug recreationally acquired it on the street or with a doctor's recommendation from a dispensary. The poll margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

The poll results showed that 43% of whites said they had smoked marijuana recreationally, while only 24% of Latinos said they had.

The poll also said that more than 80 percent of responders supported medical marijuana for "severe" medical problems. The really downer takeway is that the pro-legalization camp has lost three percentages of support since 2009.

This fact, as well as the fact that more young people than old support legalization is not at all surprising. Nor is the fact that more Democrats and particularly more Independents support the policy. This is true in other polls, especially in Gallup's national one. But it's still surprising that California cannot either legalize gay marriage or marijuana, two theoretically leftish causes that most libertarians can also get behind. Nevertheless, the marijuana shift is happening, just perhaps no faster in Californian than in most other states.

Reason on marijuana.