It wasn’t that long ago that supporting marijuana legalization was considered political suicide. There have always been a few politicians that publicly supported the idea like Earl Blumenauer, but those politicians were considered to be anomalies. That seemed to change after 2012, when not only did Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana, but anti-marijuana Attorney General candidate Dwight Holton was defeated handily. Holton thought he would campaign on an anti-marijuana platform like many had done before him, and that he would sail to victory as a result. However, an overwhelming majority of voters rejected such tactics, and instead embraced Holton’s pro-marijuana competitor Ellen Rosenblum. Many political analysts looked at that victory and saw the writing on the wall – publicly supporting marijuana reform was now a political boost, not a liability.
This is a view that is held by a majority of Americans, and support for that view is growing everyday. Per the Pew Research Center:
Attitudes about marijuana have undergone a rapid shift in public opinion, paralleled by few other trends in the U.S. Our recent data, along with historical figures from Gallup and the General Social Survey, reveal how views have shifted about the drug over time. Earlier this year, our survey found that many more Americans now favor shifting the focus of the nation’s overall drug policy.
Support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing opposition. A slim majority (52%) of Americans say the drug should be made legal, compared with 45% who want it to be illegal. Opinions have changed drastically since 1969, when Gallup first asked the question and found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use. Much of the change in opinion has occurred over the past few years — support rose 11 points between 2010 and 2013 (although it has remained unchanged in the past year). Separately, 76% in our February survey said people convicted of minor possession should not serve time in jail.
On ‘Election Day Eve’ I’m hopeful that we see even more marijuana reform victories across America. Hopefully the 2014 Election sees Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. join Colorado and Washington and legalize marijuana. By this time Wednesday morning, we should know most of the results, with the exception of probably Alaska. Alaska is hard to tally votes for, especially if the results are close, due to Alaska’s population being spread out over such a large area.