Pot should be legal in the United States of America — at least, that’s what a majority of Americans now believe, according to a new poll of American views on marijuana use and laws released over the weekend. But the poll also found that opinions about marijuana and whether using the drug should be a crime are subject to a wide generation gap, with older Americans remaining firmly opposed to legalizing pot.
The poll was conducted in mid-December by the British-based research firm YouGov, which conducts polling via the internet.
When YouGov last asked the question about marijuana legalization, in March of 2015, 48 percent of Americans said they supported legal pot. That number has now ticked up slightly, but for the first time, the figure represents a majority of United States adults, with 52 percent now answering “yes” to the question, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be legalized?”
The legal pot poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent, according to YouGov.
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The results were also divided along political party lines, with nearly two-thirds, 66 percent, of all self-identifying Democrats saying they believe pot should be legal, and 51 percent of independents agreeing.
But only 36 percent of Republicans felt the same way about legalizing marijuana, just over one-third.
Nonetheless, as seen in the video below, California Republican Congress member Dana Rohrabacher, who represents large sections of conservative Orange County, California, and who served as a press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, recently made a strong argument in favor of legalizing marijuana in an interview with the conservative news outlet Newsmax TV.
Rohrabacher, at age 68, also falls into another demographic group that largely opposes marijuana legalization, according to the YouGov poll — senior citizens.
Only 39 percent of Americans aged 65 or older answered “yes” to the marijuana legalization question, with 49 percent saying “no” and 12 percent “not sure.”
The growing segment of Americans who support legal pot may be due in part to the generation gap. As older Americans die off, the percentage of all U.S. adults who oppose marijuana legalization shrinks.
But the growing acceptance of legal marijuana may also be related to the increasingly widespread legality of pot across the United States. With 20 states now allowing marijuana sale and use for medical purposes, and another four plus Washington D.C. legalizing recreational marijuana even without a medical reason, the changing attitudes could be the result of simple familiarity.
The spread of legal marijuana has already had an impact on the War on Drugs, with Mexico’s illegal marijuana farmers and criminal pot distribution cartels feeling a financial squeeze, resulting in many going out of business altogether, according to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times.
Farmers in one of Mexico’s largest-scale marijuana growing regions reported the price for one kilogram of marijuana crop falling from $100 to just $30 over the past four years, according to the Times report, making life hard not only for the small farmers, but also for Mexico’s gangsters who once imported two-thirds of all marijuana consumed in the United States.
Since 2008, as more and more U.S. states relax their laws against marijuana use and possession, the portion of pot ingested in the U.S. that has been imported from Mexico has fallen to below one-third, the Times reported.
The poll showed little difference in opinion between white and black Americans on the legal marijuana issue, with 53 percent of whites and 59 percent of blacks in favor. Hispanic Americans, however, stood firmly against legal pot, with only 39 percent answering “yes” to the question.
Interestingly, income was also a factor in dividing opinion on marijuana legalization. While 62 percent of poll respondents reporting family incomes over $100,000 said they favored legal pot, only 51 percent of those with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 were in favor, a number that dipped to 49 percent for Americans from families making under $50,000 per year.
[Image via Marc Faur/Shutterstock]