Marijuana approval ratings in the United States have never been higher.
In 2001, roughly one-third of Americans supported marijuana legalization. According to a new Gallup poll, however, that number is now approaching two-thirds.
Last year, another Gallup poll found that a then-record of 60 percent of Americans supported ending marijuana prohibition. The latest poll measuring marijuana approval ratings shows that 64 percent now support legalization — a number that has more than doubled since 2000. Correspondingly, the percentage of those opposed to legalization has dropped to an all-time low.
While there is a gap between the number of Republicans and Democrats supporting legalization, the majority of both Democrats (72 percent) and Republicans (51 percent) — the first-ever such majority of Republicans — now think the use of marijuana should be made legal.
As FiveThirtyEight notes, Republicans and Democrats are much closer on the issue of marijuana legalization than they are, say, abortion, gun control, or health care. While the two parties may never see eye-to-eye on the latter issues, the comparative lack of polarization between the two parties when it comes to marijuana legislation is encouraging.
More than half of the states in the United States have some form of legalized form of cannabis, and if public opinion continues its current trend, we could conceivably see cannabis become legal in all 50 states — even in red states which have, to this point, been most opposed to the idea. As Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project outlined in a recent statement, widespread legalization just makes sense.
“It makes sense that support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing," said Fox. “Americans are tired of wasting resources arresting hundreds of thousands of individuals every year for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. In the five years since the first states made marijuana legal for adults, it has become increasingly clear that — unlike prohibition — regulation works. Adult-use marijuana laws create jobs, generate tax revenue, and protect consumers while taking the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals."
So, if marijuana approval ratings reflect that the majority of the American population wants legalization, what’s the hold up?
Politicians, says FiveThirtyEight.
Despite the drug’s appeal, the site points out, neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump vocally supported legalization during the 2016 election, even if politicians as a whole might be completely aware of how much — and how quickly — public sentiment has shifted on the issue.
As legal marijuana continues to enhance the lives of more and more people from all political persuasions, more and more people will want access to it. The candidates most willing to help provide that access will be the candidates most likely to be rewarded at the polls.