For the first time since Gallup started tracking American public support for legalizing marijuana, the “ayes” have it. A clear majority (58%) say it’s time to make it legal.
The change in opinion has been slow, but steady. Back in 1969 when Americans were first asked where they stood on the subject, only 12% favored legalization. Support doubled in the 70s with 28% backing legalization, but then stabilized in the 80s and 90s until it began inching upward beginning in 2000. The country was equally divided in 2011, but two years later, the majority is in favor.
What’s behind the shift?
Hard to pin down; however, several factors could be at work.
- The growing acceptance of medical marijuana as more scientists chime in and patients attest to the relief they’ve found could play a part.
- The legalization of recreational use in both Colorado and Washington may be pushing Americans’ attitudes towards greater tolerance of the drug.
- Social mores seem to be easing around the drug as high profile celebrities such as Bill Maher openly admit, “I have tried marijuana…about 50,000 times,” to which the audience responds with laughter and applause.
- Government economies are need of cash infusions and they may be looking a bit enviously at the income both Colorado and Washington stand to make off the sales of marijuana in their states. Remember, lotteries were once taboo in the U.S. Now 43 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands operate them.
What do you think is behind the jump in Gallup support for legalizing marijuana?
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