Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

73 Percent of Voters Think Medical Marijuana Should be Legal, Half think Recreational Pot Should Be Too


In October 1969, 84 percent of Americans opposed legalizing the use of marijuana, 12 percent thought it should be legal. Thirty-two years later in October 2011, Gallup found for the first time Americans broke the 50 percent threshold favoring legalizing the drug. Today, the November elections mark the first time voters popularly legalized the drug for recreational use. In Colorado, State Constitutional Amendment 64 passed 55 to 45 percent, and in Washington Initiative 502 also passed 55 to 45 percent, legalizing marijuana for recreational use.


Source: Gallup 

The Reason-Rupe poll conducted this past September also found the nation ripe for drug policy change. The nation is evenly divided over whether to legalize small amount of marijuana for adults, 48 to 48 percent. However, nearly three-fourths believe medical marijuana should be legal with a doctor's prescription.

Young Americans are much more open to reform, about 59 percent of Americans under 34 favor legalization, as do 56 percent among those 35-44. Middle-aged Americans are evenly split, while seniors are most opposed 64 percent to 29 percent in favor. However, even a majority of seniors (58 percent) favor medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor.

Religiosity highly correlates with position on drug legalization. Sixty-seven percent of those who attend church weekly oppose legalizing recreational pot, but 58 percent support medical marijuana. In contrast 75 percent of those who never attend church favor marijuana legalization, as do 61 percent of those who only attend church a few times a year.

The gender gap emerges for recreational but not medical marijuana. Fifty-two percent of men favor legalizing recreational pot, and 52 percent of women oppose.

Interestingly, significantly more tea party supporters than Republicans favor legalizing marijuana (38 percent to 27 percent). Upwards of 55 percent fo both Democrats and Independents also support legalizing the drug.

It is surprising that only 18 of the 50 states allow medical marijuana given that nearly all political and demographic groups favor medical marijuana with a physician's prescription.

With 41 years of experience since President Richard Nixon first called for a War on Drugs in 1971, fully 80 percent of Americans think this war has been a failure. Among these Americans a plurality (37 percent) think we should ease up spending on this failed war, but 35 percent think we should keep spending the same, and a quarter think the solution is spending more money.

Despite the fact that majorities of Democrats and Independents want to legalize pot, while nearly two thirds of Republicans want it banned, all political groups are equally likely to want to spend more money fighting the war on drugs (about 25 percent). About a third of all political groups also would spend less money, and roughly 40 percent would spend what we're doing now.

If a political candidate were to take a stand in favor of treating marijuana like alcohol, thereby legalizing it, 43 percent say it would make no difference in how they voted, 29 percent would be less likely and 26 percent more likely to vote for that candidate. Republicans would be more likely to oppose such a candidate (47 percent) than Democrats (18 percent) or Independents (29 percent). But nationally it only helps a candidate among 31 percent of Democrats, 32 percent of Independents and 13 percent of Republicans. 

Colorado and Washington states legalizing recreational marijuana is likely a harbinger of liberalizing drug policy nationwide. Interestingly, state polls before the election underestimated actual support for both measures. In Colorado average support for Amendment 64 was 52 percent, it passed with 55 percent; In Washington average support for Initiative 502 was 51 percent and it also passed with 55 percent of the vote. With national support hovering at about 50 percent, federal bureaucrats may soon find they lack the political support needed to continue the national War on Drugs.

NEXT: Obama Emphasizes Higher Taxes for Wealthy

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I'm hoping for full legalization of all narcotics within my lifetime. Is that so much to ask?!

    1. Yes. Pot is okay. Everything else is just horrible and kills kids.

      1. Prohibition is horrible and kills kids.

        1. Need moar boxy

          1. Happy now?

            1. These joke names are a pain in the ass now.

              1. The commentariate spoke out in favor of censorship...

          2. Need moar boxy

            remember when half the internet thought a 14 year old girl was an internet troll?

            Good times.

    2. I don't like be pedantic 'cause I usually don't what the fuck I'm talking about when I do. But here goes it: a narcotic is specific class of drugs that 'blunts the senses' (via teh Wiki).

      1. Yes, it is annoying that "narcotics" is used to refer to all drugs (or all illicit ones, anyway), including stimulants and other things which most definitely are not. I think it comes from the Bureau Of Narcotics being the first big drug regulating agency.

    3. Since the economy is going to tank before you die and there will be total lawlessness your chances are pretty good

  2. Looking like my retirement is going to be really sweet. I'm going to sit back, collect my SS, drink barrels of beer, eat what the fuck I want to, and get me a bad back that can only be treated by medical MJ. I will need at least 20 joints a day.

    I'm going to live to be a hundred and twenty something. I will have lots and lots of problems and run to the doctor every damn chance that I can. But I won't die.

    And all of those smartass young punks that voted for Obama are going to pay for all of my medical care, and they are going to like it. And I am going to polish up my monocle, pop an ice cold microbrew, fire up a fat doobie, and laugh my ass off.

  3. I will see cocaine, opium, mushrooms, ecstasy, and LSD fully legal.

    1. Which one of them will you be doing at the time that you see this?

      1. All four, plus hot sauce sucked into his nose through a $100-bill from Kate Upton's inter-boob space.

        1. *Five.

          Math is hard.

          1. Boobs make math harder.

      2. All of them, obviously, you lightweight.

        1. I was going to guess LSD or shrooms since the others wouldn't be likely to make you see such impossible things.

          1. It is odd that people want to treat psychedelics so harshly. They are basically anti-addictive and most people either don't like them at all, or get to a point where they don't want to do them anymore. And they are pretty safe provided you have a good setting and someone to make sure you don't do anything stupid (I always liked to do it alone, but alcohol is the only drug that has ever made me not know what I was doing).

  4. 52 percent of women oppose

    Yet reason thinks the Republicans should be more attentive to "women's issues"

    1. There is a reason why the words women and nanny are both of the same gender of words.

    2. That's just a 4% difference, much smaller than on many other questions.

  5. ...and then (with a couple of exceptions) all those enlighted assholes went out and pulled the lever for people who have sworn to perpetuate the drug war forever.

  6. Here's a good poll question for you:

    "If you agree that marijuana should be legalized, are you willing to allow whichever political party you oppose to win election if it would bring about this result?"

    I'm predicting 85%+ polling, "No just no, but HELL no!"

    1. Well, do you honestly believe that any sane person is going to allow Rethuglicans to enslave the brown people and wimins folk, and allow children to die in the street by the billions for lack of health care providing more income to insurance companies, just to get legal pot? Gawd, you Rethuglicans, you are just awful!

    2. No doubt, JJ, but people don't vote in their own self-interest or for the things they want (unless it's some kind of non-TEAM affiliated initiative); they vote to signal who they are and what they "care" about. So your question, while rational, is not dealing with a rational action, but rather an emotional one.

      Way to go, Data. Have fun sleeping with Tasha Yar. Ugh.

      1. I am...fully functional.

        But only Lore is programmed to be a rape-bot and to exploit his android privlege.

        1. That's why I'm Lore and you're Data. You know this. Just like you being Michael Knight, with me being Garthe.

  7. I know and accept that legaliztion/decriminaliztion will turn on public opinion, but it still irks me to see these polls. A fundamental right should never be conditional on public opinion.

    1. It wouldn't if the majority of the citizens don't devolve into mindless sheep. Unfortunately, I see a disturbing trend...

    2. All right and wrong is opinion.

  8. Sounds like a plan to me dude.

  9. Isn't October 2011 forty-two years later?

    1. Math is hard.

      1. Never did any good for anybody, neither.

  10. "Do you think it should be legal or illegal for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for their patients?" Stupid question. That's legal everywhere. It's legal for non-doctors too, and for non-patients. It's simply a freedom of speech issue, and hardly anybody would oppose that. The question is whether it should be legal to get such a prescription filled.

  11. In October 1969, 84 percent of Americans opposed legalizing the use of marijuana, 12 percent thought it should be legal. Thirty-two years later in October 2011, Gallup found for the first time Americans broke the 50 percent threshold favoring legalizing the drug

    Kinda gives you hope for libertarianism, don't it?

    1. Not really. This was basically a product of the popularizing of marijuana use. Its use didn't catch on with old people, so we had to wait until they died off.

      If we can succeed in popularizing heroin, the same will happen.

  12. It is just stunningly baffling to me that America - the land of the free and the home of the brave - ever casually accepted the idea that the government has any business telling you what you may or may not ingest - never mind the sheer idiocy of outlawing a fucking WEED. I will never get over the fact that prohibition of alcohol became a Constitutional amendment. How the fuck on God's green earth did that happen? Especially when you consider that most Americans were probably fans of alcohol at the time. And what is most sickening is that, had it not resulted such a social nightmare, alcohol would still be Constitutionally banned.

    1. And yet, outlawing other drugs somehow DIDN'T need a constitutional amendment. Also, while the US is and has been much freer than the rest of the world, the rhetoric always outpaced the reality.

    2. The 18th amendment is bizarre in on number of levels.

      After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

      'intoxicating liquors". Schnapps?

    3. It's only a weed if you don't want it there.

  13. very super blogos thanks admin sohbet & sohbet odalar?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.