A Pew Research Center report in 2013 shows that a majority of Americans now think that marijuana should be legal. The report shows that 52% of Americans now say that marijuana should be legal while only 45% say it should not be legal. That is quite a turnaround. Only ten years before, there were close to two people who said that marijuana should be illegal for every person saying that it should be legalized.
In 1969, Gallup also had a report that showed only 12% of Americans thought marijuana should be legal and a whooping 84% of respondents said that it should be illegal. Over forty years, opinions against marijuana legalization were the majority, 73% in 1980, 78% in 1991, 61% in 2002. The support for legalizing marijuana also comes from the younger set, or those who were born in 1980 and later years. Around 65% of millennials support marijuana legislation, more than around 54% and 50% of Gen X and Boomer generations. Only 1 in every 3 respondents from the older set, or those born between 1925 and 1945, thought that marijuana should be legalized.
It is not just all words either. Nearly 50% of the respondents have said that they have tried marijuana, and those who have tried it recently said that was for:
- Medical use: 30
- Recreational use: 47
- Both medical and recreational: 23
More Americans now agree that marijuana is NOT a gateway drug
With more people trying out marijuana, more people also realize that claims about it being a gateway drug are nothing but pure bull. In the late ’70s, six out of every 10 people agreed that the use of marijuana would lead to the use of other more dangerous drugs. That number lessened to only less than 4 out 10 people now.
People who think that it is morally wrong to smoke marijuana fell to 32% in 2013 from 50% in 2006, and half of the respondents don’t think it is a moral issue at all, while 12% say that it is morally acceptable now.
However, the most telling sign is that most people now think that enforcing marijuana laws is not worth the resources being put into it. More than 7 out of 10 people say that the government should focus police resources elsewhere rather than trying to catch people possessing small amounts of marijuana. Around 6 out of 10 people also say that federal authorities should just stop trying to catch people for marijuana related offenses in states where they cannabis is legal.
We also see an increase of support for legalizing marijuana across all demographics. Now more than ever, men, women, white, African Americans, Hispanics, Republicans, Democrats, more of them are saying that marijuana should be legalized.
Most people also believe that marijuana has its medical benefits. More than three out of four people now say that marijuana has medical uses, while 16% say otherwise.
It is difficult to find the numbers on European attitudes towards marijuana, but considering that it was the United States that first came up with the war on marijuana, something that the rest of the world emulated, you could safely say that European attitudes towards marijuana have relaxed over the years. Especially in light of the fact showing that marijuana does have medical benefits, and that more and more countries now have taken steps towards legalization.
This is not to say that legalization in the continent would come easily or quickly. Most of the successes in legalizing marijuana in Europe have come from small victories. In Germany, it took the case of one patient who fought for 16 years to be allowed to grow medical marijuana in his home. Even activists are forced to scale down their activities and rely on direct lobbying.
Nevertheless, attitudes toward marijuana are now more positive than what they were decades ago, and that in itself is a win.