Support for Pot Legalization Grows

In 1990, 16 percent of Americans supported legalization. Now the number is 61.


|||Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/

When a cannabis cooking show graces your Netflix suggestions, it's a pretty good indicator that national attitudes toward the substance are shifting. For an even bigger indicator, check out a recent poll by the University of Chicago's General Social Survey (GSS).

According to the survey, a record-breaking 61 percent of Americans believe that weed should be legalized. This number is considerably larger than the mere 16 percent who supported legalization in 1990.

Who specifically supports legalization? Well, just about everyone.

When the Pew Research Center reported similar percentages for support last year, it included a demographic breakdown. Most groups, regardless of race, education, or religious affiliation, expressed majority support for legalization. Those that did not were nearly evenly split on the issue.

As Reason's Steve Chapman observed in 2017, these ideas have become the political norm. Listing the reasons for the growing acceptance of marijuana, Chapman credited a better understanding of disproportionate arrests by race, access to propaganda-busting statistics about adolescent use and crime in legalization states, and even the ongoing opioid crisis.

Those 1990 results, by contrast, followed a decade of drug hysteria, overhyped anti-drug initiatives such as the DARE program, and increasingly harsh convictions for drug convictions, which contributed to the rapid growth of the prison population.

Unfortunately, in several states that have legalized recreational marijuana, governments have yet to fully bring the criminal justice system up to speed with the new laws. While states that are currently taking up legalization are adding provisions to forgive old drug convictions, states that adopted legalization earlier than others are only now addressing those who are still serving time for something that is no longer a crime. Washington, for example, became one of the first states to legalize recreational use in 2012. It wasn't until January of this year that Gov. Jay Inslee announced clemency for residents who had been convicted for possession—and even then, only if those convictions were misdemeanors.

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  1. Winning

    1. Rob Misek says that if we legalize pot any more than we have already, then mass murder will have to be legalized as well.

      So we can NOT legalize pot any more than it is now!!!!

      1. Now wait just a minute!!! This “pot” stuff is evil- evil- evil- EVIL, and will one day be the death of us all!!! (If we don’t stop it NOW!) Now hear me out, please, for the sake of us all!

        Because Elon Musk smoked pot on TV, the NASA safety bureaucrats won’t approve of new space transport for humans. For lack of that new transport, Americans will no longer be able to go to the ISS and maintain it (USA contracts for Russian rocket rides are due to expire soon, and there’s a 3-year lead time on new orders). So in early 2021, the ISS will crash into my house, and kill me, and the gravity-wave transvorbulator that I am secretly working on in my garage in my spare time, will be lost to science. For lack of the the gravity-wave transvorbulator, humans will NOT be able to fend off the near-Earth asteroid that will cream us all in 2032.
        It all started with Elon Musk smoking pot!!!

        The “Reefer madness” movie was correct; pot is the death of us all!!!!

  2. Marijuana is so much stronger now than when I was a kid, and it is a gateway drug that leads to young people experimenting with harder drugs, so we should do some more research before we go legalizing anything.

    1. Marijuana is so much stronger now than when I was a kid


    2. We need to end all behavior that has even a less then 1% chance of a negative outcome; otherwise the terrorist win.

  3. We should do more research before allowing citizens their full, constitutionally recognized, liberty.

    How many times have libertarians been castigated for calling for legalization?
    No doubt, millions. Yet, here we are.

    1. The great part is that after decades of us basically yelling at the clouds, now people on the left are just like “Oh yeah we wanna do that too — AND TAKE ALL THE CREDIT.”

  4. More good news ? not only is support for pot increasing, so is support for a ban on deadly military style assault weapons. Our democratic socialist allies are leading the way.

    Bernie Sanders: This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like. We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States.

    AOC: Ocasio-Cortez Praises New Zealand’s Weapons Ban

    A ban on these weapons of war is necessary and ? as longtime libertarian activist Michael Hihn has shown ? perfectly constitutional.


    1. Because you can count on criminals to follow the law.

    2. “We will ban parts that cause a firearm to generate semi-automatic … gunfire.”


    3. Get back to me when they praise our 2020 referenda on Legalising Cannabis and Euthanasia.

  5. Why don’t you people understand that consuming pot leads to death. Literally every person that has had pot either is dead or will die.

    1. )Mind Blown(

  6. The main reason people support is because other people do. The main reason people didn’t support it earlier was because other people didn’t.

  7. Support for Pot Legalization Grows

    And yet, somehow, it’s still illegal at the federal level.

    1. But in 2010 you will likely have a chance to vote for a presidential candidate that support legalization.

      1. sweet. which universe?

        1. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Trump make a move like this about 6 months before the election. The GOP has long been on the wrong side of this issue, but Trump throwing the issue back to the states will allow them a LITTLE more time for their anti-drug fantasies.

          The war on drugs is the most insane policy we have. It must be ended, and I don’t really care by who.

  8. What is being debated in New Jersey is not pot “legalization”, but is pot cartelization. “Legal” pot will be sold by a closed, state licensed cartel from which the state will take its cut. Political insiders have already lined up. Excise taxes will be based on weight, not value, so the state’s take will not drop if prices fall.

    Libertarians would find such an arrangement intolerable in any other industry. Yet because it’s pot, we overlook the crony capitalism.

    1. Oligopoly sure beats zeropoly.

  9. Crusty is so much more experienced and cynical now that when he was a kid, and is a gateway commenter that leads to younger commenters experimenting with more cynical news sites, so we should do some more research before we allow Crusty to post any more.

  10. as Douglas responded I am stunned that a person able to earn $7781 in 4 weeks on the internet. did you look at this webpage

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