Gallup Finds Most Americans Still Want to Legalize Pot


According to a Gallup poll conducted last month, most Americans still support marijuana legalization, although the number is down from last year: 51 percent in favor now, compared to 58 percent in 2013. The new number is close to what other recent surveys have found. Judging from Gallup's numbers, support for legalization has risen pretty dramatically in the last decade:

Gallup Poll

Gallup speculates about possible reasons for the drop in support between 2013 and 2014:

Last year's finding of 58% in favor was recorded as Colorado was preparing to become the first state to implement a law decriminalizing the use of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Although the law passed in November 2012, it did not go into effect until January 2014. Americans may have warmed some to proponents' arguments in 2013 in the ongoing discussion around the Colorado law. More recently, Colorado has been in the news over the sale of marijuana-infused edibles—everything from brownies to gummy bears—and the risk they pose to children, possibly sparking public concern. Also, a year ago, proponents in California were poised to launch a ballot initiative for 2014 to legalize marijuana in the Golden State, adding to the sense of momentum for legalization, but later decided to wait until 2016 for fear of losing at the polls, as they did in 2010. The relative lack of attention to new legalization initiatives throughout 2014 may have caused public support to subside.

Gallup adds that "as long as support hovers around the 50% mark, it will be difficult for proponents to promote legalization beyond the more Democratic and liberal-oriented states." I'm not sure about that, since 55 percent of Colorado voters approved legalization in 2012, when Gallup put national support at 50 percent, and 52 percent of Alaskans went for legalization on Tuesday. Colorado and Alaska are purple and red, respectively, so I don't think they qualify as "the more Democratic and liberal-oriented states," although both have libertarian streaks.

"The long-term polling trend from Gallup and other firms clearly shows that legalization is a majority-support issue that's becoming more and more mainstream over time, especially when you look at where we were just a few short years ago," says Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell. "At the end of the day, though, the polls that matter the most are the ones conducted in voting booths. Tuesday's election results indisputably show that Americans are fed up with marijuana prohibition."

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  1. Instead of focusing so much on millenials, I think Reason should poll its staff about their past and/or current drug use. That could be interesting.

    1. and illuminating

    2. Why? Who cares?

      1. We can make wagers on each writer, editor, and producer. It could be fun.

        1. Many a bad idea is made good by introducing a wager.

    3. And a good way to invite trouble. As longs as drugs are illegal, it is unwise to talk about using them.

      1. We’re all libertines anyway. I’m sure they’ll be forgiving. What could possibly go wrong

        1. If some member of the staff is honest, and someone who enforces legislation for a living reads it and takes decides to do some enforcement, something could go terribly wrong for that honest member of the staff.

          I work in an environment where people who have known me for the better part of a decade would lose all of their professional respect for me if I told them I smoke the herb now and then. For them it wouldn’t mean they were wrong about people who take a puff here and there. It would be mean I’ve been a dirty druggy who has fooled them all this time. Shame on them, not shame on the drug war.

          I imagine most straight-arrow people have friends and family who responsibly use drugs. They just don’t know. Because being honest about it is an invitation for men with guns to come and lock you in a cage.

          1. It’s simple. All you have to say is you “didn’t inhale” or you “only sniffed or put it on your gums”.

    1. zzzzzzzzz

      1. “Nine Z’s for mortal men, doomed to die”

    2. I think I’ll wait for the fan cut, where they take out all the crap that wasn’t in the book.

      1. I actually like the Hobbit trilogy much more than I liked LOTR.

  2. Do you think Ayn Rand ever laughed in her entire life?

    You find me one poll that shows that the American people are on the side of Republicans on… anything.

    He dings Obama plenty. You want equal time, then tell your side to stop being so fucking ridiculous and evil.

    I was just at the Jon Stewart thread, and I do not think I could parody ‘Tony’ if I tried.

    1. You find me one poll that shows that the American people are on the side of Republicans on… anything.

      There are a couple of them from Tuesday night that might suggest that.

      1. It’s a pretty silly bit of hyperbole to be sure, but I did find it interesting that in many states we saw ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage and defeating personhood amendments where GOP candidates won rather handily.

        1. People are confusing.

          1. More like confused.

            1. Or maybe they’re high

            1. Politicians tell me all the time that the American people are special. This can’t be the case. Try again

        2. ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage

          Proof that the public school system fails at teaching basic economics.

          1. Winner.

          2. A substantial portion (still a minority) of labor economists are in agreement. I don’t agree, but polling of professional economists on modest increases does seem to bear it out.

            1. It’ll be an interesting experiment.

            2. Naively, basic economic theory would lead you to think that minimum wage increases would have some negative effect on employment. My understanding is that this has been difficult to measure in most cases, though some studies claim to see it. Perhaps the naive assumptions are wrong. Perhaps the effect is too small to measure in the sample sizes of the studies. Perhaps the studies are not carried out as well as they should be. Maybe we are wrong about the way labor markets work, at least in certain segments.

              1. It’s also possible that prices adjust rapidly, meaning that you don’t end up with increased unemployment because the cost of living just increases in order to cover the increased wages.

                In that case, raising the minimum wage wouldn’t make anyone better or worse off because people would have the same earning power before and after the wage increase.

                1. No, everyone would pay the costs but only MW workers would receive the benefits.

                  1. One of my problems with studies of minimum wage hikes is that I can’t conceive of a mechanism that somehow overrules the basic fact that a price floor for labor means anyone whose labor is worth less becomes unemployable. In any case, it hurts the people at the very bottom of the ladder: the dumb, the uneducated, the handicapped, the ugly, the ex-cons.

                    My analogy, re studies: We know that, all other things being equal, the more weight carried in a car, the worse the mileage. It may be a small effect in some cases, but it’s there. Now imagine a bunch of researchers studying this. They ask a bunch of people about the cars they drive (model, transmission type, etc.), how many passengers they usually carry and what they weigh, what they carry in the trunk, where they drive, etc. But barring 24 hour monitoring of each car and weighing everyone and everything in them, I don’t think the researchers could accurately measure the effect of extra weight on gas mileage. The “studies” of businesses simply aren’t detailed enough to see the effect.

                    1. The thing is, if employers are forced to pay higher wages they will likely end up finding other ways to reduce their labor costs. This may mean adjusting hours, or cutting other means of compensation.

                      These adjustments are likely one reason why the problem doesn’t show up in unemployment numbers, instead it shows up in the fact that minimum wage workers tend to have less overall benefits and less happiness with their jobs overall.

                      Russ Roberts and Mike Munger had a discussion on this years ago and pointed out that the higher you raise the minimum wage the more workers will begin to exploit themselves. They know that there people willing to instantly replace them, and thus put up with all sorts of bullshit and abuse.


  3. One thing that I think can unite everyone here, is the hate of police unions. Here’s a statement from the NYC one on the ending of an aggressive anti-marijuana program:

    “If the current practice of making arrests for both possession and sale of marijuana is, in fact, abandoned, then this is clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society.”…..and-busts/

    1. Nothing says civilized like throwing as many people in a cage as possible.

    2. this is clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society

      Interpreted: This means that we can lay off a bunch of lazy cops that don’t really serve the public or do much of anything good for society.

      1. … and can only turn to a life of (a different kind of) crime.

  4. Tulpa-time.

  5. Wait. Wait. Wait. You’re telling me that most Americans want to legalize pot, but that it’s still illegal? If only there were a form of government that would allow people a way to govern themselves.

  6. I’m not sure about that, since 55 percent of Colorado voters approved legalization in 2012, when Gallup put national support at 50 percent, and 52 percent of Alaskans went for legalization on Tuesday.

    Don’t forget that the failed amendment in Florida garnered more support than either of those successful initiatives with 58% of the vote and over 3.3 million registering support. And this in the face of a fairly large bolus of Anti-pot money to help drive support down from 80%. If 58% is the floor of support in Florida, I’d say that looks a lot like the handwriting on the wall.

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