As has been covered extensively on this blog, many states have moved to legalized medical marijuana. Recently, the city of Los Angeles has made moves to control and limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up. While national acceptance of medical marijuana has consistently grown, and now enjoys the support of 73% of Americans, the opinion regarding the full legalization of the drug still has the country divided.
On June 25, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press announced numbers from a new survey regarding the legalization of pot. The numbers are not too far apart, with 41 percent supporting overall legalization, and 52 percent saying it should remain an illegal substance. The trend however, is moving toward legalization, as evidenced by the change in opinion during the last several decades. Pew notes that in 1987, only 16 percent of those polled supported the legalization of marijuana, but by the year 2000, that number had climbed to 31 percent.
Other demographic breakdowns between those who support and oppose legalization are not surprising. The divide by political party shows that Democrats and independents are far more likely to support legalization than they were 10 years ago, with half of each group supporting legalization, while Republican opinion is virtually unchanged with about one quarter supporting legalization. Also unsurprisingly, the younger portion of the population is far more likely to support legalization than older Americans. Adults younger than age 30 support legalization at a rate of 58 percent and of those ages 65 and older, only 22 percent would support a law legalizing pot.
The largest gap and an interesting number was found when Pew polled those that said they had tried marijuana vs. those who said they had not. Fully 64 percent of Americans who admit to having smoked pot say it should be made legal, while just 25 percent of those who say they have never used marijuana support legalization.
As noted in a previous post in this blog, these numbers will be put to the test in California, come November. At that time, the country's most populous state will vote on the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 which would legalize, tax and control marijuana.