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.
 
~
September 18, 2019

Sports and Pot: Exploring the Role of…

in Sports

Athletes are increasingly turning to cannabis to improve recovery time and achieve better results.
September 18, 2019

What You Need to Know About Buying…

Growing your own bud is a far more sustainable option than purchasing expensive dispensary weed. But where the hell can…
September 18, 2019

Company launches round-the-clock marijuana delivery service in…

In this 24-hour town you can get a drink, go grocery shopping and lift weights whenever you desire — regardless…
September 18, 2019

How the Cannabis Industry Can Do Better…

Between energy-intensive indoor grows and the mountain of plastic packaging, legal weed is not as green as you would think.…
September 17, 2019

Mouth On Fire? Here’s How Cannabis Can…

Researchers accidentally proved that marijuana has the potential to ease the pain of capsaicin, which is the chemical responsible for…
September 17, 2019

USDA hemp regulations draft sent to White…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has completed a long-awaited draft of federal regulations for the cultivation of hemp and submitted…
September 17, 2019

Blingy vaporizers and gold rolling papers: luxury…

As marijuana becomes more acceptable and its consumer base grows, companies are aiming for prestige.
September 17, 2019

Marijuana Banking Bill Gains Momentum With One…

The most cannabis-friendly Congress in history is back from its August recess, and lawmakers are already making key moves to…
September 16, 2019

How Florida's 55 and older communities are…

"They can get off many of their expensive meds and that is very appealing to seniors."
September 16, 2019

This Is the First Hemp Strain to…

As the high-CBD strain that won over skeptics and helped change the national conversation around medical marijuana, Charlotte’s Web may…
September 13, 2019

Cannabis on Cape Cod: A Fledgling Industry…

For the moment, the Triple M medical cannabis facility in Mashpee, Massachusetts is the only cannabis dispensary on Cape Cod.