A Gallup Poll released today showed that, for the first time in its 42-year history of asking the question, a majority of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized nationwide.
Gallup reports that the 50% nationwide support for legalization also represents the first time support has outweighed opposition. Only 46% of Americans believe marijuana should remain criminalized, with 4% undecided.
Support for marijuana legalization remains greatest in the Western states (55%) and majorities support legalization in the Midwest (54%) and East (51%). Only voters in the South still oppose marijuana legalization (44%). Men still support legalization at a much greater rate than women (55% vs. 46%).
Support is also greatest among younger Americans (62%), Democrats (57%), and liberals (69%). However, support for legalization has increased even in demographics generally opposed to legalization. Compared to Gallup’s poll last year, support increased 4% points in the South, 12% points in the Midwest, and 6% points among 50-64, but fell 1% among 65+. Support rose 6% points among Republicans, and 4% points among conservatives. Marijuana legalization is becoming more popular with just about everyone.
One third of jurisdictions in the United States – 16 states plus District of Columbia for 17 out of 51 – exempt medical use of cannabis from criminal prosecution. Yet the federal government has initiated a new full-court press against these jurisdictions in an attempt to kill the burgeoning medical marijuana industry. This despite Gallup’s most recent poll to ask about legalizing medical marijuana (in 2003) showing 75% support nationwide.
One might think this escalation in the War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Pharmaceutical, Non-Alcoholic, Tobacco-Free) Drugs is designed to hamstring the state initiatives to legalize marijuana in 2012 by cutting the purse strings of the movement. When three-quarters of Americans support legalizing medical cannabis use, half support outright legalization of all cannabis use, and one-third of the states are openly defying federal prohibition, federal retribution in service of the status quo is inevitable.
The question is: what will you do to push the issue over the tipping point? Register to vote? Contact your legislators? Join a local NORML chapter? Contribute to National NORML? Get educated on the issues? Join together with like-minded women? Reach out to seniors? Follow the latest marijuana news? Learn from the experts? These latest federal actions should show you that they aren’t going to legalize marijuana any time soon – it’s up to you to act now.