CBS News Poll confirms troubling data for legalization and medical marijuana proponents

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator November 18, 2011

    [Update: Yes, I meant “proponents”, not “opponents”.  An 11-point gender gap and 52% believing medical marijuana is not for the severely ill, but for “something else” should trouble proponents of legalization. -“R”R]

    The latest poll to ask the American people their opinions on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization reveals some disturbing trends for opponents of marijuana prohibition.

    21st Century Legalization Polls

    21st Century Legalization Polls by major news and polling organizations (click for full size version)

    According a recent CBS News poll conducted at the end of October, a slim majority of 51 percent continues to think that marijuana use should be illegal. But support for specifically allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for serious medical conditions – or legalized “medical” marijuana – is far stronger: 77 percent Americans think it should be allowed.

    CBS’s poll compares well to the bulk of polls on the issue over the past two years, which have ranged from 40% to 46% support for full-legalization.  It’s interesting to note that no news organization has ever shown a poll with majority support for full-legalization; the five polls showing 50% or greater support all come from Zogby, Angus Reid, and Gallup.

    Still, even though most Americans support this, just three in 10 believe that the marijuana currently being bought in this country under state-authorized medical marijuana programs is being used in the way it has been authorized: for alleviating suffering from serious medical conditions.

    In previous posts we’ve noted the gap between medical-only and full-legalization has shrunk from 44% to 20% in the Gallup Polls.  This CBS poll shows 77% nationwide for “Do you think doctors should be allowed to prescribe small amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses?” but also shows only 31% of the country believes “marijuana that is purchased in this country through state authorized medical marijuana programs is being used to alleviate suffering from serious medical illnesses”.  Majorities of Republicans (62%) and Independents (51%) and a plurality of Democrats (44%) believe “most of it is being used for other reasons”.

    As usual, people between the age of 18-29 support legalization (52%) as do liberals (66%).  Greatest support geographically is again found in the West (48%).  But surprisingly, the Midwest (43%) beats the Northeast (41%) in support and Independents (48%) have greater support for legalization than Democrats (45%).  Also as usual, and still vexing for legalization proponents, is the gender gap of 11 points between men (46%) and women (35%).

    84 responses to “CBS News Poll confirms troubling data for legalization and medical marijuana proponents”

    1. Brandon says:

      All I want is clean, safe, and easy access to real cannabis. I’m tired of being treated like a run-away slave that must be a part of the “criminal system”. I just want to be like a normal person and not hide who I am as a cannabis user. Why can an alcoholic beat his wife and get off scotch-free, but a cannabis user is beaten in jail for not beating his wife?

      [Russ notes: I think that last sentence may be this month’s inadvertently ironic hilarious botched idiom winner.]

    2. Brandon says:

      You can say marijuana will HURT you, you can say it will make you DEPENDENT, or ADDICTED, you can say it gave you bronchitis… but there’s one thing you can NEVER say about marijuana… that it would kill you. NEVER.

    3. Men 46%
      Women 35%

      That proves it . Men are smarter than women .

    4. adam says:

      Well, when you create an easy-to-game system like California’s, which effectively became a backdoor way to legalize marijuana, then yes, people are going to notice that most of the patients are not AIDS or cancer patients but 20 something dudes with vauge, easy to fake illness. While many, if not most, patients have a legitimate illness, not all do, especially in California which has very liberal laws.

      I don’t think this is bad for legalization, I think this is bad for marijuana as a medicine. Lots of people get high, or believe that people should be able to get high freely. Not only that, but NORML of all organizations should be able to support getting high as an okay thing to do itself. When you act shocked that people have noticed that not every “patient” is particularly sick, then you’re just being silly, and playing into the idea that getting high is some sort of sin to be legislated against.

      On the other hand, for marijuana as medicine, I think it would be a crying shame if doctors and patients started ignoring it’s effectiveness for various maladies, whether it is legal or semi-legal or what have you. It really should be one of the first medicines considered in many cases, as it is non-toxic and very safe.

      [Russ responds: Not shocked at all, and if you peruse some of our writings on the subject, you’ll find our predictions of exactly this sort of public perception forming. (Google “medical marijuana box canyon”.) Trying to fit marijuana in the “medical only” frame is too small a box for cannabis. It is medicine, certainly, and I have scores of personal friends and acquaintances as proof. But it’s also sacrament for some, and industrial product, and a fun way to enjoy some great music, among other things. Cannabis doesn’t fit nicely in any established paradigm, either in the doctor/pharmacy/medical sense or in the booze/cigarettes/intoxicant sense. It is important that we are truthful about the plant and forthright about the real reason it should be legal… because there is no rightful authority to prevent a person from sowing a crop for personal use or to prevent a person from doing something to themselves that harms no other.]

    5. TheOracle says:

      Thanks for getting McKay into a better-paying job and getting him to regret his having to prosecute Marc Emery and to advocate legalization.

      Lawrence O’Donnell’s show was immediately moved to the 10 o’clock time slot after this pro-legalization polemic.

      Spin that the perceived abuses of medical marijuana has been put to an end by the latest DEA raids.

      A group in Germany is going to petition for cannabis clubs, it has come to my attention as a result of the wietpas by the Netherlands. If France would follow suit, especially in light of their teetering economic problems and the Dutch barring of all but Germans and Belgians in southern Limburg, the benefit of taxes and reduced criminal activity to fill the need for cannabis the French were previously getting from the Maastricht area and southern Netherlands would be a justifiable move of French exceptionalism. If any countries in Europe consider themselves exceptional, it’s France, as it has no U.S. troops on its soil, and will not cave to American pressure not to move toward a coffeeshop system of its own or not to legalize. This would put pressure on the career diplomats of the U.N. in Vienna and elsewhere to change international conventions to allow cannabis legalization, at least to get the hell out of the way.

      The Middle East/Arab countries are know for loving their very high quality cannabis products, and their export gives the U.S occasion to establish NGOs and covert activities and friendship treaties with them while providing them with instant jobs and hard currency from the export of cannabis products from Morocco, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Egypt, etc. All produce excellent cannabis products, and it will calm the populaces and endear them to the modern creature comforts cherished in the West. It will foot the bill for their westernization and modernization, make more friends than enemies. It’s cheaper to have friends, of course.

      Expand the OWS movements, put the pressure on the supercommittee, get more media pundits like O’Donnell to take the pro-legalization positions.

      Lawrence O’Donnell needs to stop being threatened and punished, and needs to get his show back on prime time opposite O’Reilly.

      Can you get Warren Buffett to trash cannabis prohibition?

      You’ve got all these unemployed people, druggies according to the dullard politician King from New York, smoking weed in public, exaggeration and hyperbole, of course, but they’re making an income with an underground untaxed market and to get them back into the workforce once DC geniuses do get jobs creation into their heads these people will have to be able to pass a pre-employment piss test, and you know, as long as they aren’t high on the job, they should get the job and keep the job. The whole metabolites stay in the system way after the high has worn off thing must go out the window. Cannabis will have to be legalized and all federal sanctions lifted and federal strings mandating firing for cannabis lifted, and the whole matter of cannabis left to the states to regulate.

      The wietpas is doing its function to put the pressure on other countries to stop outsourcing the supply for their own citizens. That is why once the wietpas is in effect, only Dutch citizens will be allowed in the coffeeshops if Minister Opstelten has his way. That speaks volumes to the U.S. to legalize in the name of human rights in order to eliminate the murders on the U.S. border, at least eliminate them for cannabis.

      Really, DC, have you no shame?

      Have you no remorse or pity for all of the murders and deaths that have taken place because of marijuana prohibition?

      Toomey, Republican supercommittee member from Pennsylvania, should cite the Shafer Commission from way back when in 1972 and show his outrage at all the money spent on cannabis prohibition since, use it as an argument in support of legalization, without admitting that he used it. I mean, you need to do some serious digging on Pat Toomey, his high school and college pals need their lips loosened with alcohol and/or money to tell the truth on him. This is about loyalty to the American people to end the war their own government is waging against them and not about loyalty to Toomey.

      Dig, dig, dig! Living here in Allentown, Toomey. You can’t be as good two shoes as you want your image to be. Everyone has youthful indiscretions, and yours will be used to endear you to ending cannabis prohibition if your bean-counting career does not.

      Get on it! Dig, dig, dig that dirt on all the members of the supercommittee to get them to recommend ending cannabis prohibition at the federal level.

      Do it!

    6. darkcycle says:

      Ask the people THIS question : “Do you believe that people should be arrested and given a lifetime criminal record for marijuana?” and see what their poll results say. Polls are subject to error and manipulation, and should always be taken with a large grain of salt.

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    8. Potimism says:

      I garantee that 30 to 40 percent of the 51% are people who are old and are influenced by reefer madness. Its not like I want them to die or anything but most will be gone within a decade or 2, meaning that the 51 percent will be cut significantly over time and newer generations will start smoking which will make the current 49% higher. It’s a matter of time folks so let’s all be patient.

    9. claygooding says:

      I am sorry but I have seen mainstream news pump too much propaganda up America’s butt to trust a poll by them now.

      I would trust a survey by Jon Stewart and the Comedy channel more.