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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 16, 2013

    In another sign of the changing times, this past week two new polls have been released demonstrating majority support for allowing the medical use of marijuana in two southern states, a region historically less supportive of cannabis law reforms.

    A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling revealed that most North Carolinians believe that a doctor should possess the legal option to authorize marijuana for patients. Support for legalizing medical marijuana is at 58% overall, with 33% opposed and 9% undecided. A majority of every age group under age 65 supports allowing for the medical use of marijuana. The poll surveyed 608 North Carolina voters between January 10 and January 13, 2013.

    Another Public Policy Polling survey had the majority of West Virginians supporting the medical use of cannabis, 53% in favor to 40% opposed. Further, when asked which is a safer treatment for debilitating pain: the medical use of marijuana or Oxycontin, 63% responded medical marijuana. You can view more data from this poll here.

    Legislation to allow for the medical use of cannabis is expected to be introduced in both states this year. If you live in North Carolina, you can currently use NORML’s Take Action Center to write your elected officials and tell them to support this legislation by clicking here.

    These recent polls are indicative of the attitude shift towards cannabis that is occurring across the country. Check NORML’s Take Action Center to see if marijuana related legislation has been filed in your state and use our form to easily contact your elected officials in support of these important measures. Check back often, as new legislation is being introduced constantly.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 29, 2010

    The latest national poll numbers from Gallup, which has been tracking public opinion on cannabis legalization since the late 1960s, shows that Americans’ support for ‘making marijuana legal’ is now at its highest reported level of support ever.

    New High of 46% of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana
    Liberals, 18- to 29-year-olds express the highest levels of support
    via Gallup.com

    While California’s marijuana ballot initiative is garnering a lot of attention this election cycle, Gallup finds that nationally, a new high of 46% of Americans are in favor of legalizing use of the drug, and a new low of 50% are opposed. The increase in support this year from 44% in 2009 is … a continuation of the upward trend seen since 2000.

    These results are from Gallup’s annual Crime poll, conducted Oct. 7-10. Approximately 8 in 10 Americans were opposed to legalizing marijuana when Gallup began asking about it in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Support for legalizing the drug jumped to 31% in 2000 after holding in the 25% range from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s.

    Political Leanings, Age Divide Americans’ Support for Legalizing Marijuana

    Across numerous subgroups, liberals’ support, at 72%, is by far the highest. There is widespread support for legalization among 18- to 29-year-olds (61%) as well.
    Majority support is also found among Democrats, independents, men, and political moderates.

    A large majority of those living in the West, which encompasses California, are in favor of making the drug legal. Support is significantly lower in the South and Midwest.

    Political conservatives and Republicans are the least supportive of legalizing marijuana. Seniors express a similarly low level of support.

    Women are 10 percentage points less likely than men to favor legalizing the drug.

    These demographic, political, and ideological differences in support are much the same as they were in 2009.

    Bottom Line

    Support for making the drug legal in general, however, is growing among Americans. The public is almost evenly split this year, with 46% in favor and 50% opposed. If the trend of the past decade continues at a similar pace, majority support could be a reality within the next few years.

    The latest Gallup numbers reinforce the question: ‘If a government’s legitimate use of state power is based on the consent of the governed, then at what point does marijuana prohibition — in particular the federal enforcement of prohibition — become illegitimate public policy?’ It’s time for our elected officials to answer.