New Poll: 53% Of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana

New Pew Poll Finds That 53% Of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana
New Pew Poll Finds That 53% Of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana

Yesterday the Pew Research Center unveiled a new poll detailing why Americans support or oppose the legalization of marijuana. The national survey, conducted March 25-29 among 1,500 adults, revealed that a majority of Americans, 53%, support legalizing weed and only 44% don’t. This is quite a contrast from as recently as 2006 when only 32% supported marijuana legalization—while nearly twice as many (60%) were opposed.

One of the most interesting facts that surfaced in the new poll is that supporters of legalizing the use of marijuana are far more likely than opponents to say they have changed their mind on this issue. From the Pew Research Center:

Among the public overall, 30% say they support legalizing marijuana use and have always felt that way, while 21% have changed their minds; they say there was a time when they thought it should be illegal. By contrast, 35% say they oppose legalization and have always felt that way; just 7% have changed their minds from supporting to opposing legalization.

This poll also included people’s opinion about legalization—which is extremely revealing.

When asked, in their own words, why they favor or oppose legalizing marijuana, people on opposite sides of the issue offer very different perspectives. But a common theme is the danger posed by marijuana: Supporters of legalization mention its perceived health benefits, or see it as no more dangerous than other drugs. To opponents, it is a dangerous drug, one that inflicts damage on people and society more generally.

The most frequently cited reasons for supporting the legalization of marijuana are its medicinal benefits (41%) and the belief that marijuana is no worse than other drugs (36%) –with many explicitly mentioning that they think it is no more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes.

The most frequently mentioned reason why people oppose legalization is that marijuana generally hurts society and is bad for individuals (43% say this). And while many supporters of legalization say that marijuana is less dangerous than other drugs, 30% of opponents have the opposite view: They point to the dangers of marijuana, including the possibility of abuse and addiction.

What the 43% of that opposition don’t realize is that marijuana isn’t what hurts society—it’s marijuana prohibition that’s the real danger. Prohibition creates a criminal market and incentivizes breaking the law. And the ignorant 30% who don’t realize that marijuana is far safer than any other recreational drug, in fact a new study shows that weed is 114 times safer than booze. Thankfully, it’s polls like this one that reveal the ignorance of the opposition.

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