Pew Poll: Three-Quarters Of US Adults Say That Marijuana Legalization Is Inevitable

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 3, 2014

    Seventy-five percent of Americans believe that the sale and use of cannabis will eventually be legal for adults, according to national polling data released this week by the Pew Research Center. Pew pollsters have been surveying public opinion on the marijuana legalization issue since 1973, when only 12 percent of Americans supported regulating the substance.

    Fifty-four percent of respondents say that marijuana ought to be legal now, according to the poll. The total is the highest percentage of support ever reported by Pew and marks an increase of 2 percent since 2013. Forty-two percent of respondents said that they opposed legalizing marijuana for non-therapeutic purposes. Only 16 percent of Americans said that the plant should not be legalized for any reason.

    Demographically, support for cannabis legalization was highest among those age 18 to 29 (70 percent), African Americans (60 percent), and Democrats (63 percent). Support was weakest among those age 65 and older (32 percent) and Republicans (39 percent).

    Seventy-six percent of those surveyed oppose incarceration as a punishment for those found to have possessed personal use quantities of marijuana. Only 22 percent of respondents supported sentencing marijuana possession offenders to jail.

    Fifty-four percent of those polled expressed concern that legalizing marijuana might lead to greater levels of underage pot use. (Forty-four percent said that it would not.) Overall, however, respondents did not appear to believe that such an outcome would pose the type of significant detrimental health risks presently associated with alcohol. As in other recent polls, respondents overwhelmingly say that using cannabis is far less harmful to health than is drinking alcohol. Sixty-nine percent of those polled said that alcohol “is more harmful to a person’s health” than is marijuana. Only 15 percent said that cannabis posed greater health risks. Sixty-three percent of respondents separately said that alcohol is “more harmful to society” than cannabis. Only 23 percent said that marijuana was more harmful.

    The Pew poll possesses a margin on error of +/- 2.6 percent.

    Recent national polls by Gallup and CNN similarly report majority support among Americans for legalizing and regulating the adult use of the plant.

    Commenting on the poll, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Advocating for the regulation of cannabis for adults is not a fringe political opinion. It is the majority opinion among the public. Elected officials who continue to push for the status quo — the notion that cannabis ought to be criminalized and that the consumers of cannabis ought to be stigmatized and punished — are holding on to a fringe position that is increasingly out-of-step with the their constituents’ beliefs.”

    19 responses to “Pew Poll: Three-Quarters Of US Adults Say That Marijuana Legalization Is Inevitable”

    1. Ohio I am says:

      Hear this all politicians
      this is a true test for all voters
      You will soon know the will of the people
      We will all benefit to learn what kind of person
      is representing us. Continued support of prohibition
      and you will become extinct.

    2. Thomas says:

      Hurry up and legalize! Tennessee needs to be shown the way to treat the sick, the hurt, and the stressed. Thank you for everything, NORML!

    3. Ruben Jesus Hernandez says:

      The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.
      – Thomas Jefferson

      Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.
      – Thomas Jefferson

      And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree,
      – Genesis 1:29

      He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man:
      – Psalm 104:14

      We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption.
      – John Adams

      Legalize Cannabis Freedom !

    4. dax says:

      It is sad to say this,but the older generation is dieing off and this was the only way cannabis would ever be legal in America

    5. Evening Bud says:

      It’s the demographics man. Of course, without the invaluable help and guidance by people and organizations like NORML, it would be a far tougher slog. Here’s hoping we can keep the momentum going.

      Being in Amsterdam was an incredible feeling of freedom. I’ll be going to Denver in May, and I expect I’ll get that same wonderful feeling. But I also want to get that feeling in my own state–and in others.

      PS–I agree with dax that it is sad that it’s taken the passing of many of our older friends and relatives to help us get to this point. Such are the ramifications of propaganda.

    6. Ray says:

      @dax-it’s true, but remember this prohibition is about racism in America. Our parents were taught to be afraid of dark skinned people. Watch the opening scene of The Avaitor.

      There was never any science to support the prohibition. This is why marijuana prohibition is crumbling. I hope New York figures this out soon, there is some easy money to be made on taxes and home based small businesses.

      Imagine New York dispensary owners with so much cash they wouldn’t know where to spend it first. Its already a reality in Colorado and soon to be Washington.


    7. Julian says:

      November elections are getting better every day. Everyone donate! The recent Supreme Court decision to lift campaign caps is placing us right up against Koch Industries, big Pharma, Robert DuPonts piss testing empire and The military-Industrial-Drug-Prison complex.
      What we really need out of a poll is to:
      1). Demonstrate whether Americans understand the difference between hemp and marijuana, and
      2). Ask America how they feel about faux decriminalization or medicinal marijuana laws that offer beurocratic, useless placebo versions of medicine for epileptics so Republicants can fake a soundbyte and a photo-op.

      I heard on NPR this morning that Mexico admitted that their soldiers cross the southwest border at least “once a month.” The report scathed the Mexican government, concluding, “Were they looking for narco-traffickers and why did they have fake name tags?”
      Wow. Another American aptitude test is required to surpass the vain, paid, squirrel-like attention span of the media.


      Does the media honestly think we dont know this?

    8. Julian says:

      Poll this:
      What percent of Americans believe;
      1). Our government and Mexico’s are the principal drug cartels of the Western hemisphere.
      2). Hemp uses less water than corn or cotton.
      3). The Department of Health and Human Services must cease Patenting cannabinoids.
      4). It is a violation of human rights for any individual, corporation or government to patent or prohibit any organic compounds. We can only regulate them.
      5). Marijuana political prisoners must be set free immediately.
      6). We reserve the right to refuse submissive urination testing for any reason whether public or private.
      7). Americans reserve the human right to grow our own crops and store our own seeds without unlawful patenting of GMO crops.
      8). We reserve the right to grow unlimited supplies of hemp on our own property for our own self sustainability.
      9). Prohibition is unconstitutional and immoral.
      10). We have the right to self medicate.
      11). The Controlled Substance Act must be repealed, for the “substance” it “controls” is the sick, the poor and minorities; or not the least of these, ourselves.

      Perhaps its not legally worded for a CanniBill of Rights, but its a start

    9. Supporting Prohibition is the most primitive and single-minded stance of all humankind! Legalization and regulation of Cannabis is a right and it is our freedom to do so. No matter what laws there may be on the books, the possession and use of Marijuana is still legal under the U.S. Constitution, because these laws are unconstitutional!

      Until the law is restored, the police offers will continue to ignore the U.S. Constitution.

    10. scott says:

      legal or not you’ll get fired for positive drug test. Maybe if its legal you could collect unemployment, but you still won’t be able to work. THAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM. Don’t believe me? look at Denvers want ads.