Poll Reveals Most Americans Approve Of Legal Marijuana Laws

Poll Reveals Most Americans Approve Of Legal Marijuana Laws

A recent poll found that fifty-five percent of American adults think that the laws regulating the legal cannabis markets in some states are successful, or that they are at least “more of a success than a failure.”

The survey, taken by YouGov on April 20 of this year, asked 27,328 Americans living in the states that have already enacted laws to legalize marijuana, “Do you think the legislation has been a success or a failure?”

The poll provided 5 response options to participants:

  • Success only
  • More of a success than a failure
  • More of a failure than a success
  • Failure only
  • Don’t know
One in five Americans think legislation for recreational marijuana has been a success

Combining to account for the majority, thirty-six percent of poll participants say the laws regulating the legal cannabis markets in eleven of the states are “more of a success than a failure” and nineteen percent replied that they are a total success. 

Believing the opposite, thirteen percent of respondents stated that recreational legalization laws have been “more of a failure than a success.” Only six percent view the legislation as a complete failure. Unsure of the effectiveness of the laws, twenty-six percent of people replied that they “don’t know.” 

YouGov sorted the survey results according to:

  • Geographical region
  • Gender
  • Political affiliation
  • Age
  • Income level

Significant imbalances in responses among the geographical regions, gender, age, and income levels of poll participants were not observed.

Disparity Among Political Parties

Disparity among political parties for recreational marijuana being a success or a failure

The only category that produced a notable difference among respondents was political party affiliation. Not surprisingly, Democrats and Independents were more likely to reply that the legislation was a “success only” or “more of a success than a failure” than their Republican counterparts. 

Sixty-seven percent of Democrats and fifty-four percent of Independents attested that regulated markets were operating within one of the two positive poll response choices. Forty-one percent of poll participants that described themselves as Republican also categorized the legislation as successful.

Independents (21 percent) were more likely than Democrats (10 percent) to consider the law to be a complete failure or “more of a failure than a success.” Thirty-four percent of Republicans agreed that the legislation is unsuccessful.

National Shift Toward Support

Another YouGov poll administered on the same day found that sixty-two percent of Americans believe that the use of cannabis will be legal in every one of the United States within the next decade and that fifty percent of voters believe that “recreational marijuana should be legalized.”

In-line with the results of this recent poll from YouGov, the opinion of the majority of Americans has been steadily shifting in support of legalization for many years now. A poll released by Gallup last year revealed that an even greater percentage of voters (66 percent) are now in favor of a regulated recreational cannabis market. That number increased from fifty-eight percent, according to a 2015 Gallup poll.


Polls from the last several years show that most voters in states like Maryland, Connecticut, and Wisconsin support the recreational legalization of marijuana. Some large cities in states where the plant has not yet been legalized for recreational use, like New Orleans, LA, and Dallas, TX, have still supported the trend by choosing to decriminalize personal possession.

Legalization Is Not Encouraging Marijuana Use Per Harvard Study

Legalization Is Not Encouraging Marijuana Use Per Harvard Study

Cannabis policy reform seems to be sweeping across the United States, as Alaska and Oregon have recently joined Colorado and Washington as states in which voters approved measures to legalize the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana. There are also efforts mobilizing in many other states to place legalization initiatives on the 2016 ballot. While all of this is happening, many people have been left questioning whether legalization will encourage marijuana use, especially in young Americans.

According to the 2014 Harvard Public Opinion Project, legalization does not encourage marijuana use. Nearly nine out of ten participants (88%) who have not used marijuana recently responded that they are not likely to change behavior if it is legalized. This means that legalization is not a driving factor in a young American’s decision to use marijuana.

The Harvard Public Opinion Project has been collecting information and tracking participants’ views toward politics and public service since the year 2000. All participants are between the ages of 18 and 29. Inspired by the recent politics, the project’s 14th year contained more questions about marijuana than ever before.

Only 10 percent of the survey participants reported having used cannabis recently. The wording categorized recently as “within the last few months.” Of those respondents, 88 percent support legalizing marijuana on a federal level. Even 37 percent of participants who have not used cannabis recently still support legalization. A sizable amount of respondents who have not used marijuana recently, 23 percent, were still on the fence or unsure about legalization.

Outside of this Harvard study, Gallup has acquired similar information about marijuana legalization support from voters of all ages. The graph below shows the evolution of marijuana legalization support from 1969, when support was only at about 12% through 2013, where support is up to 58%.

american support for legalizing marijuana

According to the Harvard study, the percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who support legalizing marijuana is lower than the national average. When each participant of the 2014 Harvard Public Opinion Project was asked whether “they support, oppose or are unsure about legalizing marijuana,” regardless of preference to use, 44 percent responded in support, which is 14 percent less than the national average according to the Gallup poll. Of that, 23 percent reported strongly supporting legalization. The percent of participants on the fence about marijuana legalization, regardless of preference to use, 22 percent reported being unsure or on the fence.

Although some of America’s youth may not yet have formed an opinion about legalization, one thing they are sure about is that whether or not the plant is legalized will not make a difference in the choice to use it.

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