I wrote yesterday about the new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll (PDF) revealing Americans' deep disdain for the ability of government to accomplish…anything. But that wasn't the only good news buried in the long survey. Tagged on to the end was a question about marijuana legalization. Once again, a majority of respondents are all for it.
In the case of the AP-NORC poll, released as newly legal recreational marijuana sales make national headlines, 52 percent of those surveyed support legalizing marijuana, with 45 percent opposed.
This has become something of a trend in polling, with a 49 percent plurality telling Reason-Rupe just last month that they support legal pot. In October, 58 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll supported legal marijuana.
Results vary a bit depending on how the question is framed. Asking people if they favor treating marijuana like alcohol tends to get higher "yes" numbers than asking them about legalization. The increasing frequency of outright majorities favoring overt legalization shows a major shift in public opinion in recent years. That's not a shocker in a country where 42.4 percent of us have tried grass at one time or another, according to the World Health Organization. Hell, the Denver Post hired an editor to cover the marijuana beat full time.
David Brooks would say that we're all just encouraging marijuana use, with our permissive opinionizing. He's wrong. I may encourage it—if it works for you, that is—but most people likely believe it's not worth arresting and jailing people, and ruining their lives, because they choose this intoxicant over a beer.