The Majority of Americans Support Cannabis Legalization

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A new survey released by the Pew Research Center indicates that the number of Americans who support marijuana legalization are higher than ever. 57% approve legalization, while only 37% think cannabis should be outlawed. To put the huge shift in opinion in perspective, ten years ago approval was at just 32%, with 60% of adults opposed to cannabis legalization.

The survey found some interesting correlations between people who support cannabis legalization and factors like age, race, education level and political affiliation.

Political affiliation showed the biggest divide in approval, with more Democrats on board with cannabis than Republicans. Pew reports, “By more than two-to-one, Democrats favor legalizing marijuana over having it be illegal (66% vs. 30%). Most Republicans (55%) oppose marijuana legalization, while 41% favor it.”

Within the Republican party, support can be narrowed down even further. “By a wide margin (63% to 35%), moderate and liberal Republicans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. By contrast, 62% of conservative Republicans oppose legalizing marijuana use, while just 33% favor it.”

Among Democrats the difference in approval was less drastic. 78% of liberal-leaning Democrats favor legalization while moderate and conservative Democrats approval is at 55%.

Among generations, Millennials (ages 18-35) are the most likely to support cannabis legalization at 71%, but the approval rating among Gen X (ages 36-51) and Baby Boomers (ages 52-70) is gaining traction. 57% of Gen X supports legalization and approval among Boomers is up from 17% in 1990 to 56% in 2016.

Support for marijuana legalization is equal among blacks and whites at 59%. 49% of Hispanics do not approve of marijuana use, while 46% favor legalization.

The Pew Research Center gathered responses from 1,201 adults between August 23-September 2.