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 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."