A new poll shows majority support for marijuana legalization, even among Republicans.
The Gallup poll released this month shows 64 percent of American adults support legalization. For the first time, a majority of Republicans, 51 percent, support it. Support from Democrats rose to 72 percent.
The polling organization has tracked attitudes toward legalizing marijuana for nearly five decades, and the polls show slow but steady support for legal marijuana.
Gallup first asked national adults about their views on the topic in 1969, when 12% supported legalization. Support had more than doubled by the end of the next decade but changed little throughout the 1980s and 1990s. By 2001, however, about a third of Americans favored legalizing marijuana, and support has steadily increased since. A majority of Americans have consistently supported legalizing marijuana since 2013.
Marijuana is banned by the federal government and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been hostile to legalization. But a number of states allow its medicinal use, and more are legalizing recreational use. Business Insider reports:
Marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, is considered an illegal Schedule 1 drug by the federal government. 29 states, however, have legalized some form of medical marijuana and allow doctors to prescribe the drug to patients.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions could find himself out of step with his own party if the current trends continue,” Gallup noted.
Steve Chapman, writing for Reason.com, argues that the case for legalization grows stronger as more states experiment with Cannabis:
The case for full legalization becomes stronger all the time. One reason is that the disproportionate impact on African-Americans has gained more attention. Blacks are nearly four times likelier to be arrested for pot possession than whites even though there is no racial difference in usage.
Drug enforcement has been a major motive for stop-and-frisk tactics that have fostered resentment of cops among black men. Treating cannabis like beer or cigarettes would greatly curtail such encounters.
For years, opponents said legalization would lead to disaster. But as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. noted, “A page of history is worth a volume of logic.” We no longer have to rely on ominous forecasts. We now have actual experience in states that have taken the leap, and the results refute the fears.
Studies show that after Colorado permitted recreational pot, there was no increase in adolescent use or traffic fatalities. In Washington, which voted for legalization in 2012, crime rates proceeded to decline. California found that when medical dispensaries closed, neighborhood crime didn’t fall; it rose.
While the debate continues over full legalization of cannabis, hemp oil is also growing in popularity, and is legal. Hemp oil is derived from industrial hemp, marijuana’s distant cousin, and won’t get you high, but does have a number of benefits.