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Most Americans Want Legal Marijuana

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director April 4, 2013

    For the first time since they began polling the question four decades ago, Pew Research Polling has released new survey data that reveals 52% of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. Only 45% were opposed.

    This support is spread across demographics. The Baby Boomers (50%), Generation X (54%), and Millenials (65%) all have majority support for legalization. The only age demographic that remains opposed is the Silent Generation, those born before 1942, though support in this age group has also significantly increased. 32% of this age group now support legalization, up from 17% in 2002.

    According to this polling data, most Americans have also tried marijuana personally. 48% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked if they consume marijuana, up from 38% about a decade ago.

    Not only are Americans becoming more supportive of legalization, but there has been a dramatic change in how Americans view marijuana use. In 2006, Pew Research found that 50% of Americans believed smoking marijuana was “morally wrong” and only 35% did not think it was a moral issue. Today these numbers have completely flipped, 50% of Americans responded in this latest survey that using marijuana is not a moral issue and only 32% stated it was morally wrong.

    60% of Americans across all political orientations also believe the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that legalize it. 57% of Republicans, 59% of Democrats, and 64% of Independents believe the federal government should leave states like Washington and Colorado alone.

    You can view the full results of this survey here.

    36 Responses to “Most Americans Want Legal Marijuana”

    1. Chuck Skrout says:

      When will we stop supporting pharma companies in favor of natural? 99% of prescription drugs are more dangerous than pot (ok, all). Safe, interesting effects on some cancers, helps eye conditions better than surgery in some cases, and helps relieve pain w out addiction. Pharma companies are gettin too rich on addictive drugs that people cant quit. Is it by accident that oxycodone’s closest chemical relative is heroin? I mean why would a company make something that makes people sick unless they keep taking your product? Because it means u have customers for life. Tobacco and pharma kill people as a matter of course and they persecute pot growers making a legal living. What drug has a safer record than marijuana, truthfully?

    2. Max Lives says:

      I would like to know from some of those 32% who think marijuana use is morally wrong, just why they think so.

    3. dax says:

      57% of Republicans, 59% of Democrats, and 64% of Independents..

      If that is the case then why cant that same % change the law in congress? 57 and 59 seems to me a majority win? or is congress really that screwed up on how voting is done?

    4. Closet Smoker says:

      Come on Eric! Make the announcement from the DOJ, free the weed! Majority wants it that way man!

    5. Evening Bud says:

      I’m surprised the baby-boomers are so comparatively low on the support. I think some of it may have to do with the heavy propaganda that that generation was subjected to over the years. Even some people I knew who smoked in the ’70s seemed to change their stances over the years to non-acceptance. Maybe they’re learning now that it’s okay to support it again.

    6. Fireweed says:

      so when do I actually get to walk in to a store, order my favorite strain and go home and smoke it?

    7. Matt says:

      I would like to help the regulation of marijuana in the US. The largest arguement I have heard over the legalization stuck with me though. There is an inherent barrier of enforcability of criminal mis-doing related to marijuana use. I would rebute that there is only small amounts of such cases. This may be a mistake. I have just confirmed there is a small problem. A heaviver weight on the balance of legalization is the precedence of alcohol and tobacco. There are millions of people harmed by drinking, socially. The regulations aganist purchasing alcohol and conduct while under the influence are in concrete. The enforcement is not of to society’s par for bringing in another borderline disruptive drug to the front lines of law enforcement. Whether or not it is a destructive as alcohol, or even tobacco, is mute. I doubt anyone would take a petition to legalize marijuana seriously that does not have better law enforcement techniques and clear boundaries for use and impairment.

    8. TheOracle says:

      This is great news!

      This is great news that most federal politicians will continue to ignore as long as they can.

      I mean, what the hell do you have to do to get their attention? Send all of them a bunch of phony joints? Why put yourself in jeopardy and waste your weed by sending them the real deal? Unless you’re sure they or their staffers will vaporize or smoke it.

      Can I buy a package of ready-made fake joints to send, or pay to have them sent to my federal and maybe state legislators monthly, or is it illegal to send lookalike joints to them?

      Too bad we don’t have the money to walk into their offices and dump bags of cash on the floor like Larry Flynt did. You can think what you like, but he’s one of my heros, a real nonviolent freedom fighter!

    9. jimmy says:

      Now that legalization is reality in two states, the floodgates are opening.

      Just talking about cannabis seems to be self-defeating, by either allowing ignorant people to stigmatize one’s character as a “druggy.” People say that most elected officials are averse to even bringing up the subject, not just because it might lead to scrutiny, but also political suicide or ostracism. The invisible money powers have a shadow whose interests affect the openness of Congressional speech.

      This is what happens when a relatively harmless plant with medical benefits is propagandized and slandered with misinformation, and the penalties associated with getting caught carry medieval, draconic punishments that negatively affect the lives of wrongfully-charged. For what is a non-crime.

      It’s not a crime. Cannabis use is neither unethical or immoral as well. It is amoral, in the sense that it lacks any moral description. In fact, it might be moral to use cannabis if it helps one’s quality of life so they can function in society if they are endocannabinoid deficient.

      American philosopher James Rachels came up with the minimum conception of morality in this book the Elements of Moral Philosophy. To paraphrase:

      Morality is, at the very least, the effort to guide one’s conduct by reason. That is, doing what there are the best reasons for doing, while honestly considering the best interests of all those affected by what one does.

      Let’s see…an unreasonable and unsubstantiated prohibition that removes a hugely important and sustainable resource out of the “free” market and economies, backed by almost obscene punishments, those which do not fit the crime (it’s not a crime!), to the benefit of a select few and invisible money interests. A trillion dollars spent so far on Nixon’s CSA drug war could have been used for so many, better and more utilitarian causes or services. Yet few will say the money spent was effective in anyway, besides motivating, creating the organized crime.

      Cannabis users stand on the moral high ground, above legislators who support prohibition either for self-enrichment, or because they fear its overbearing and powerful proponents, above any justice system that inappropriately diverts its resources and rebuffs the spirit of the law.

    10. Voice of the Resistance says:

      I’ve never believed smoking marijuana was morally wrong. However I have a strong belief that trying to cram religion down a persons throat is. And I’ve always wanted to know how the ant-drug intended to make anyone “free” by persecuting people for smoking marijuana.

    11. Evening Bud says:

      At a time when the majority of American want MJ legalized, and others seem to be moving our way, you can bet on the occasional reaction from the “drug war dinosaurs” like GOP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence calling for–and getting–tougher laws passed for low-level cannabis “offenders.”

      The conservatives are trying to get a “state religion” law passed in N.C., and now tougher pot laws in Indiana. Hey, the 17th Century is over! Let it die! What is it we’re always hearing on these posts–time to vote these bums out!

    12. lo well says:

      Matt, I’m not sure what it is that you are trying to say. Please try agian.

    13. Miles says:

      If this country is truly an example of Democracy, why aren’t more of our elected officials on board with it?

      Oh yeah… a combination of ignorance, cowardice, and greed…

    14. johnny d says:

      Should be interesting to see what the administration’s response will eventually be. Obama gave the nod to gay marriage because the majority dictated such. Obama gave the nod to allowing 11,000,0000 ”visitors”in our country,because a majority of Americans favor said activity.Its fairly ironic that Barry himself smoked marijuana (and went on to become president of these United States),yet doesnt seem to have any ”insight ”as to whether or not legalizing marijuana would be good…or bad. President Barack Obama is a liar…..

    15. Clay says:

      I have not seen any petitions with this information yet so I created one. I feel like it is probably a waste of time, but I will never stop fighting for this cause. Here is the link to my petition-http://wh.gov/Mqo6.

    16. Dave Evans says:

      Miles, this is not a democracy. Did you even read about our history? Many of the “founding fathers” didn’t believe in direct democracy so they formed US into a “Federalist Republic”. The intent was to be able to ignore short term changes in favor of longer term trends–to keep the government stable.

      The problem with innocent people being arrested for non-crimes isn’t due to a lack of democracy, but one of lies and deception and official corruption. Any public servant that puts they their lies (ego) above the common good has become a criminal–and that is all there is to the War on Weed. Lies and Corruption.

    17. Jeremy Miller says:

      Right on Jimmy! I’m always glad to witness other enlightened thinkers who don’t think black and white, but they throwin the shades inbetween too. I’m 100% for marijuana legalization as I think it will do great things for the country-such as increase communal cohesion, between citizens AND them and their police; boost the screwy economy by actually giving people something they want; and for the people who do use cannabis medicinally-great for them-I know i wouldn’t want to put the synthetic, man-made shit the pharmacies call “medicine” into my body. Shit, if I can’t trust the FOOD the FDA says is “ok” then how do you believe me to be gullible enough to fall prey to the money making monster of our health care, count me OUT.
      I’m an 18 year old male who was a freshman at UW-Whitewater.
      My first semester of college, the week prior to finals week, the cops came into my door off of a tip from an informant.
      The following week I followed out my semester long goal and got an A on every final, which put me onto the prestigous Dean’s List with a 3.692 GPA.
      4oz, a scale, and a pipe later I am now out of college (suspended from my states University system for 2 years) and only working to try and stay out of debt.
      This happened December 11th of last year and i still havent heard word from any officers regarding the case.
      It’s nice to know belligerent, unconscious, and potentially dangerous drinkers get petty slaps on the hand, but my life, which was set for greatness, is strongly upset by one mistake.
      LEGALIZE IT.

    18. Joel: the other Joel says:

      Cannabis is more understandable of what personal freedom is all about. It is one of the joys of living and being social. It’s better than the “goose-stepping” crusade of the prohibition movement.

      The children are growing up.

    19. Galileo Galilei says:

      The Federal government has shown itself incapable of formulating a rationale, science based policy concerning marijuana for 70+ years.

      I’m sick and tired of paying for the war on marijuana while the CEOs of every large tobacco company can swear with right hand raised before Congress that they do not think nicotine is addicting and actually get away with it.

    20. John k. says:

      Can’t wait till it legalized, friend of a friend just got nabbed for this harmless drug in Indiana, last night. They are looking at large charges and possibly many years in prison. Fucking ridiculous. Two elder couple, in their 50′s. Disgusted and have had it with prohibition. I’d like to go protest in front of the county jail for wrongfully jailing for a harmless drug. Meth labs are out there, go nab them bastards.

    21. John McClane says:

      shout out from pa. here’s some inspiration if you get busted…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9BOFNDpJpg

    22. Ryan says:

      Ok so heres the thing, honestly I think far to much time has been wasted on legalizing marijuana while a more simpler approach to the topic exist. Hemp. Industrial hemp is revolutionary and if allowed to thrive it would change the American mindset towards this plant in general, which is still desperately needed. I don’t know about the rest of the country but pot is a straight taboo where I live, even mentioning hemp gets you lumped into a category of “stupid stoner”, its pretty elementary really.

    23. jaimie says:

      I THINK ITS TIME FOR A REVOLUTION
      WOODSTOCK 2013
      FREE WEED
      END THE WAR

    24. Erick Anonnymous says:

      To me i want to smoke without getting penalized and aiding my state!!! end of sentence period!!!

    25. Mothere says:

      Wyoming is such an ultra-conservative state that getting marijuana legalized as in our close neighbor Colorado is most likely a long way off. My son and girlfriend smoke for pain from dibilitating car accident and MS. They live in fear of “capture.” Not right! I think we need to push for legalization in the entire country. Civil Rights; interacial marriage, same-sex marriage; let’s keep going for sanctions off marijuana and industrial hemp!

    26. This would be a perfect opportunity to separate the politions who are truly trying to improve the lives of the people of this country and the ones that just want to hold power. A narsist fears the loss of authority in any form. We will see true colors. Remember Who You Vote For.

      Thanks NORML

    27. chris says:

      I am still not sure what the problem here is!
      Even with the end of prohibition of alcohol running our federal government off the road, they have still made a living off of the ignorent who dont follow simple rules of engagement for a legal product.

      When cannabis is allowed to be intorduced back into society for medical and recreational useage, there is going to be rules of engagement that are going to be broken by those who believe that legal means no laws…..The law enforcemnet will have plenty of non violent offenders that will keep there paychecks safe.

      Lets face it, people will use the old “ignorent is my best defence” as a way out of trouble. I can remember being a kid in the late 70′s when if the cops pulled over a car that had and social drunkerds in the car they let the most sober driver go on and drive , and maybe would even follow them home to insure they made it with out harm.
      If you even have an empty alcohol container in the car they will hammer you into the ground.
      Laws change all the time, and sooner then later cannabis laws need to be reformed with maybe the same tactics as allowing the most “sober drunkerd” to drive home
      (and just know i am not advocating any driving while intoxicated advise to anyone, just dont think saying “we want cannabis legal” and then operating with the same laws for it being illeagal is a good start, it all needs reformed with lower Penalties is my point, and then we can build from there ).

      As a whole we all learn from our mistakes its called experience, and without it were all just making the same mistakes, without learning. Cannabis is not as harmful to society as it was once madeout to be. We just need to figure out how to convey the message to those who are unsure, and willing to listen to reasoning. maybe in the upcomming months change will run wild and we can have our personal lives back.

      Sorry for this long post but just a couple more thought for you……
      I was at a “shop” a couple days ago where the older generations hang a complain, and one guy said his company just took 15 aplicants for a job positon and only 2 passed the dug test and the only thing they were on was cannabis, and in the same conversation,after hearing them all complain, they started with the drug test the unemployed and the welfare groups. I laughed a little thinking to my self, when your bosses applied your job performance to your job performance. Now its all about “What did you do last night, or what did you do last week. My point is simple, there were 15 people willing to go to work to earn a paycheck, and 13 of them were denied because the company said the bosses of their companies, they hired could not tell by job performance if the new hires were going to make it unless they knew what they were doing outside of work. I mean really. They use this “Equal Opportunity” line to lure you into a positon at their companies with false hope and thoughts of becomming the boss one day when in reality your a kneck down hole filler and you may never move from your positon. So why all the lies? Why bother with spending all your time for the perfect hole filler, Why worry so much about their personal lives when it is so easy to fire someone over insubordination.
      To the employers” take the cannabis test out of your pre—–or now employment” and you will have all the empolyee’s you ever wanted, if they dont work out , replace them. This is my solution to some of our economic problems, not that it is with out faults, its just a starting ground.

      Just my thoughts and opinions.

      as always
      thanks for reading
      chris

    28. Trent says:

      I would like a statement from valid majority if the opposing party to see why they wouldnt want to legalize it! Marijuana is going to help the economy TREMENDOUSLY and help many needed people! These people arent just not just getting high they are medicating!

    29. Chris says:

      Visit http://petitions.whitehouse.gov to sign the pro-marijuana legalization petitions!

    30. Todd says:

      I also hope this nightmare ends soon. The political reasons behind the grotesque apathy that Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have shown us towards American values like “liberty and justice for all” and “government by the people” beg explanation.

    31. Len says:

      I remember 40 years ago I told my father that I smoked pot. He made me move out. He also told me that if presented with 2 job candidates, equally qualified, he would not hire one of them if he smoked pot.

    32. Midknight says:

      I would rather be around someone who is stoned than a drunk any day. IMO the situation should be reversed as for legality. Alcohol is resposible for destroying more childhoods and families than marijuana has or ever will. It defies common sense.

    33. Mike says:

      the so called “silent generation”, was raised on the thought that you must listen, without question to what you are told by authority, and your elders. They were brain washed into believing that marijuana was this terrible thing that caused black jazz musicians to rape white women, and cause you to go mad, those who grew up around it and or using it understand that most of what was said thru propaganda is completely false. The fact is marijuana is less dangerous than tobacco and alcohol, as far as that goes more people die each year from allergic reaction to peanuts….With our federal and state economies in the shape they are in, how can we not give legalization a chance. From fuel alternatives, saving our forests, decreasing the amount of money spent on building new prisons to house the over abundance of prisoners, many who are there on marijuana related charges, medical uses…the list goes on and on….Legalization only makes sense to those who have an open mind, and the will to educate themselves.

    34. Janet says:

      Mike, You are so right. I’m not quite sure what generation I’m in; born in 1943. I was of that mindset too. Son, drasticly injured in auto accident with lasting disabilities, and his girlfriend, suffering with MS have changed my mind. Just read “Smoke Signals” by Martin A. Lee and it is a real eye-opener. Wish every American would read it. Something must be done! I was hoping President Obama would get the job done, but he has been disappointing in this area. I wrote him an email. Perhaps if we all do so, it could make a difference. Hate my son and Linda living in fear, and only three miles from the Colorado State line.

    35. Steven says:

      I again with the maijauana bill pot needs to be legalization

    36. me says:

      When blacks refer to each other as “niggers” they disrespect themselves and teach whites that it’s ok to use that word. When gay people don’t stand up to gay bashing then, essentially, their co-signing that behavior. And when people who use Marijuana allow themselves to be referred to as “pothead”, “stoner” or worse, we allow ourselves, to be de-humanized and bullied with derogatory remarks. I don’t think I’ve ever referred to someone who has a particular preference for vodka or beer as a vodka slut or a beer pig. So, I am not a “stoner” or a “junkie” So what am I? I’m me. And that’s all I need to be.

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