More Americans support legalizing marijuana than they approve of the sitting president, or support any of the 2016 presidential candidates. On Wednesday, Gallup released the results
of its latest poll on pot sentiment, and it showed that majority of Americans — 58 percent — favored legalization for the third consecutive year. Younger folks were more enthusiastic about it than older folks. But older folks are way more supportive than retirees in previous polls.
Support for legalizing cannabis started at 12 percent in 1969 and climbed to 25 percent by the late '70s. Reformers back then thought the nation was on the cusp of legalizing cannabis, but were wrong. Support climbed into the 30s by the year 2000 and past 40 percent by 2009.
We are now three years into legalization in Colorado and Washington, with Oregon, Washington DC and Alaska now legal, too. Thirty-five states have a medical marijuana or cannabidiol law.
“The topic has been an issue on the 2016 presidential campaign trail, and several candidates have expressed a willingness to let states set their own marijuana laws even though federal law prohibits marijuana use,” Gallup states.
Among the young, 71 percent of 18-34 year-old support legalizing it.
But the swing vote is older folks. Thirty-five percent of senior citizens support legalization today, up from just 4 percent in 1969. We’ve reported how seniors are the new swing vote for legalization. About 10,000 Baby Boomers hit retirement age every day in America.
Drug Policy Alliance
All-time support for legalization linked to changing mores of senior citizens.
[Related: Listen to "Why Seniors Are Using Medical Marijuana", from our podcast, The Hash]
“Among all age groups, the increase in support has been proportionately greater over the last 15 years than it was between any of the earlier time periods,” Gallup notes. “These patterns by age indicate that one reason Americans are more likely to support legal marijuana today than they were in the past is because newer generations of adults, who are much more inclined to favor use of the drug, are replacing older generations in the population who were much less inclined to want it to be legalized.”
“ Americans who are aged 65 through 79 today — born between 1936 and 1950 — are more supportive of making marijuana legal in 2015 than those born in the same years were 15, 30 and 46 years ago. This birth cohort's support has increased from 20% in 1969 to 29% in 2000/2001, and is 40% today.”
Gallup surveyed 1,015 adults October 7-11 via phone. Margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.