Image of graph showing sharp increase in support for marijuana legalization in 2014
~
In interviews conducted between March and October of last year - when the legal marijuana markets in Colorado and Washington were ramping up - researchers asked 1,687 respondents the following question: "Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?"
 
Fifty-two percent said pot should be legalized, 42 percent opposed it, and another 7 percent were undecided. Support is up 9 percentage points from 2012, the last time the survey was conducted.
 
The GSS marijuana numbers trace the trajectory of U.S. drug policy over the past 40 years. In 1974, a year after the Shafer Commission recommended removing marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, public support for full legalization stood at 19 percent. Support rose through the 1970s, reaching nearly 30 percent in 1978, only to plummet during the Reagan years, "Just Say No" and the advent of the drug war.
 
The year 1990 represented the nadir of legalization support, when it stood at 16 percent. But the numbers rose steadily through the 1990s as states began adopting medical marijuana laws, starting with California in 1996. As recently as 2006, support stood only at 32 percent - just a little bit higher than the previous peak in 1978. In the fewer than 10 years since then, support has jumped 20 percentage points - mirroring, in many ways, the dramatic shift in public opinion on gay marriage over the same period.
 
Legalization supporters have been able to capitalize on that energy and secure full legalization in four states, with a partial legal status in DC similar to the Schafer Commission's original recommendation. Opponents have scrambled to catch up, but the sharp and sustained increase in public opinion means they're facing an uphill battle. That fact that they've been drastically outspent at every turn - partially a reflection of greater public support for the pro-legalization camp - hasn't helped things.
 
Still, after repeated losses at the ballot box legalization opponents are now turning toward the courts. The attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed suit against Colorado. Former DEA administrators and a DC-based tough-on-crime group advocating for harsher prison sentences have also rallied to the cause. Additional state-level lawsuits may be coming soon.
 
For a public increasingly weary of the toll of decades of costly and ineffective drug policies, these cases will be a tough sell. Younger Americans - including Republican ones - overwhelmingly favor marijuana legalization. And after a year of legal pot, Colorado doesn't appear to be experiencing buyer's remorse. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 58 percent of Colorado's voters said they supported the state's marijuana law -- slightly more than the 55 percent who approved it in 2012.
 
The strong numbers in the latest General Social Survey indicate that the issue isn't losing salience with the public. At the national level, support for legal marijuana remains robust -- and doesn't show signs of wavering any time soon.
 
Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.
 
~
April 03, 2020

Trans-Atlantic hemp trade hit by uncertainties -…

Supply-chain disruptions and delivery delays have become the new normal for hemp and other agricultural commodities as governments keep their…
April 03, 2020

Older adults and medical marijuana: Reduced stigma…

As a primary care doctor who has incorporated medical cannabis into his practice, it is notable how many silver-haired patients…
April 03, 2020

Marijuana firms shift to virtual 4/20 celebrations…

Cannabis companies that were planning to host elaborate monthlong celebrations around 4/20 have been forced to change plans and are…
April 02, 2020

Illinois cannabis sales hit nearly $36 million…

According to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, adult-use cannabis sales hit $35,902,543.22 in March.
April 02, 2020

USDA Approves Hemp Plans For South Carolina…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Tuesday that is approved hemp regulatory plans for two additional states and…
April 02, 2020

Should COVID-19 Allow Medical Patients To Grow…

While some medical marijuana states allow home cultivation, others do not, potentially harming lives during the coronavirus outbreak.
April 02, 2020

Oklahoma Lawmakers Consider Recreational Marijuana To Fill…

COVID-19 is having a multi-million dollar impact on the state budget. One lawmaker said the solution might be to legalize…
April 01, 2020

Cannabis Scientists Are Chasing the Perfect High…

Chemists at some of the biggest legal-weed companies are after an elusive prize: a predictable, reliable product.
April 01, 2020

Hemp farming approved to begin in Georgia…

Hemp farming has finally gotten the green light to begin in Georgia, bringing a new crop that will sprout this…
April 01, 2020

Nevada marijuana deliveries are skyrocketing. Is this…

Much like the grocery stores trying to fill orders for rice and potatoes, cannabis retailers cannot fill marijuana delivery orders…
April 01, 2020

Study finds CBG useful in killing MRSA,…

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada recently published a paper describing how cannabigerol, the common cannabinoid known as CBG, killed…