In October, a non-partisan think tank called Third Way conducted online polls in order to gauge American support for marijuana policy reform. Support for legalization is regularly painted in the media as widely divided between party lines, but a closer look at the numbers reveals a different story.
Third Way’s poll findings concluded that 50 percent of Americans support recreational marijuana while 47 percent oppose. These numbers are closely in line with Pew Research polls that peg support in the United States at 52 percent. What the team at Third Way chose to focus on however, was the number of voters who are still sitting on the fence.
There is an overwhelming amount of support for medical marijuana from both parties, with collective support at a whopping 78 percent. It is quite surprising to see such a broad range of support when medical marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but most Americans agree that the federal government has no business telling states what to do. In fact, 67 percent of voters said that Congress should pass legislation giving states protection from overarching federal reach. A small segment, 21 percent, of those opposing the legality of marijuana still believe that Congress should pass laws to protect states where marijuana is legal.
In the overall sample, Third Way determined that Republicans, moderates, white females, and people over the age of 50 make up the majority of those still “sitting on the fence.” These voters will not be easily persuaded to go either way, but are perhaps the most important in terms of moving forward with marijuana policy reform. As we have seen in efforts like the Yes On 91 campaign in Oregon, these voters can be reached, educated and brought to the polls.
The messaging that will sway the opinions of the “marijuana middle” is still unclear, and it seems that there is no one-size-fits-all rhetoric. Messaging that illustrates America’s failed drug war and explains the compassionate use of marijuana for cancer patients seem to be front-runners, but this will not convince everyone that marijuana will work in their community. What is clear, is that this small group of individuals (the soccer moms and 50+ demographic) will need some convincing before they vote in favor of marijuana policy reform. Education and tight regulation of proposed legislation will be critical if proponents of policy reform want victories in 2016.
Photo Credit: gnarburger
As the trend of marijuana decriminalization continues in America, so too do the amount of people willing to admit that they’ve taken a puff or two in the past. According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, about 38% of Americans say that they have tried marijuana in their lives.
With more and more Americans willing to fess up to smoking, one begins to wonder where these smokers are dispersed throughout the country. According to a recent article, these states are rank among the highest for marijuana consumption per capita.
1. Alaska: Not who we expected to see at the top of the list. With over 68,000 people over 18 reporting marijuana use during in the past month, that means just over 13% of the Alaskan’s are lighting up. It’s a safe bet that this number will increase post-legalization.
2. Rhode Island: Another unlikely candidate for top stoner state. Just under 13% of Rhode Island’s small population said they’ve smoked in the last month.
3. Vermont: This nature-loving, organic, and hormone-free state is less of a surprise, but still beat out other states that have more progressive marijuana legislation.
4. Oregon: With new marijuana legislation in place, Oregon comes as no surprise as a weed-friendly state. Just over 12.4% of Oregonians have lighted up within the past 30 days. Now they’re doing it legally.
5. District of Columbia: We know it’s not a state, but DC ranks highly among places with high marijuana consumption. Over 10.5% of residents have smoked within the last calendar month.
6. Montana: Montana’s sparse population has some similarities to the freedom-loving, gun-toting state of Alaska. These states prize their personal liberties and smoking weed may be one of those liberties they enjoy most.
7. Colorado: The only surprise here is that Colorado wasn’t ranked higher. With tourists and residensts flocking to the state, it would come as no surprise to see CO jump up on the list in coming years.
8. Washington: Right behind Colorado both in legislation and consumption, this state will similarly keep it’s spot on this list. As WA begins to roll out retail locations, look for a bump in state consumption.
9. Massachusetts: Around 9.26% of these New Englanders say they use marijuana. The state is still working out their medical marijuana program and will likely continue to decriminalize in the next few years.
10. California: This state has an astounding 2.5 million marijuana users, but their population is similarly large. For a state that’s known for marijuana production and consumption, this came as the biggest surprise on the list.
With last week’s changes to marijuana legislation in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC, it’s fair to say that legalization is in the front of many minds. Aljazeera has broken it down for us with their recent infographic showing where it’s legal, how much pot you can posses in newly legal states, and where it might be legalized next. The graphs show that marijuana support has risen from just 12% back in 1969 to 52% today. This distinctive change in the tides will certainly fuel more policy reform in the coming 2016 election year.
Today 56 percent of voters approved the use of medical marijuana in the US Territory of Guam. The votes have been collected for 56 of 58 precincts have been collected, indicating that support for the measure was wide spread.
Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance issued this statement, “Guam is quite conservative politically, and home to a significant U.S. military presence so this resounding victory is a confirmation of medical marijuana’s broad support across the political spectrum.”
Though the bill is significantly more restrictive than most medical marijuana programs in the United States, this victory is for the ailing patients of Guam in need of life-saving medicine. The medical marijuana program in Guam won’t allow for patients to grow their own medicine and must come with a doctor’s acknowledgment of “debilitating medical conditions.” The bill will no doubt help thousands of the current 160,000 residents on the island.
As election day unfolds this may be the first of several victories for the marijuana advocates. Stay tuned in for results from Alaska, Florida, Oregon, DC, and several other cities across the United States.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Last Friday Pew Research published 6 facts about the changing tides of public opinion on marijuana. Pew Research used recent data along with historical data from Gallop Polls and General Social Survey to put together some interesting graphical representations of society’s changing attitude.
1. Most Americans Support Legalization
The first time the marijuana question was given on a Gallup Poll was back in 1969. At the time, support was at just 12%. The times have certainly changed since 1969 and now a whopping 52% of Americans support legalization.
2. Support Varies With Age
With 45% of of Americans still opposing legalization, it’s clear that some groups are holding on to their opposing views. Americans aged 69 to 86 for instance, only show about 27% in favor of legalization. There is a clear generational divide between the supporters and the opposition.Baby Boomers are the oldest generation to support legalization and only by a slim margin.
3. Keep It At Home
Although the trend seems to be in favor of legalization, it seems that most folks still want nothing to do with it. That means: if you smoke do it at home or at minimum keep it away from me. The states who are experiencing legalization are very familiar with this sentiment already. Colorado and Washington both have laws in place to keep smoking off the streets and for the most part, private.
4. Half of Americans have smoked pot.
That’s right half. The correlation between this figure and the number that support legalization shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you also consider that 69% of Americans believe that alcohol is more harmful than marijuana.
5. The Lay Of The Land
While these numbers might look encouraging to legalization proponents, this map doesn’t tell the same story. Only two states have implemented legalization with two more currently on the ballots. Twenty three states allow for some form of medical marijuana and sixteen have decriminalized the plant.
The numbers speak for themselves and this November marks yet another opportunity for several states to join the legalization front. If the research is any indication of the future, legalization is indeed inevitable and soon the policies will represent the people of this country a bit more accurately.
Via: Pew Research