Poll after poll is now demonstrating that a majority of American voters support legalizing marijuana and that momentum is at the back of advocates hoping to end the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition. The Pew Research Center is the latest polling firm releasing its findins that a majority of voters support legalization, the first time a Pew poll found more than 50% support for legalizing cannabis.
From The Huffington Post:
A national Pew Research Center poll released Thursday shows the majority of Americans support pot legalization 52 percent to 45 percent, with 72 percent who say that the cost of federal law enforcement efforts are not worth it.
The results mark the first time in more than four decades of Pew's polling that a majority has taken that position. As recently as a decade ago, only about one-third of American adults backed making marijuana legal. Support for legalizing pot is up 11 points since 2010, the most dramatic change since the late 1960s, according to pollsters. A Gallup survey conducted in 1969 found only 12 percent favored legalizing marijuana use.
"It's time for politicians to catch up to the voters on this issue," said Marijuana Majority spokesman Tom Angell. "Not too long ago, it was widely accepted in political circles that elected officials who wanted to get reelected needed to act 'tough' on drugs and go out of their way to support the continued criminalization of marijuana. The opposite is quickly becoming true. A majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, and you're going to start seeing more politicians running toward our movement instead of away from it, just as we've seen happen with marriage equality recently."
Complete Drug Policy Alliance press release on this historic poll:
Breakthrough Pew Poll: Marijuana Legalization Wins Majority Support Nationwide
72% Say the Federal Government's Efforts Against Marijuana "Cost More Than They are Worth"
For the first time in more than four decades of polling by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans supports the legal regulation of marijuana. According to the nationwide pollof 1,500 Americans, 52% back marijuana legalization, reflecting majorities of Democrats, independents and liberal and moderate Republicans almost uniformly across every region of the country. Majorities of Americans no longer consider marijuana consumption immoral, nor do they consider marijuana to represent a "gateway" to other illicit substances. Moreover, a super-majority of respondents --- 72% --- say the federal government's efforts against marijuana "cost more than they are worth."
"I've always tended to be cautious in claiming that we've hit the 'tipping point' on marijuana legalization," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "But we're there now. And I'd say we're trailing marriage equality by just a half-step, even if far fewer elected officials are willing to join publicly with us as yet."
Last November Colorado and Washington became the first jurisdictions in the world to legalize adult use of marijuana, each state adopting a ballot initiative with at least 55% support. The Obama administration has not yet clarified federal policy in light of these new laws. Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated a statement from the Department of Justice is imminent. A number of recent polls has found majorities of Americans across the ideological spectrum favor allowing states that have legalized marijuana to implement those laws without interference from the federal government.
I cannot agree with Tom Angell and Ethan Nadelmann more; we have reached a tipping point on marijuana legalization and it is time for politicians to step forward with the strength of their convictions and to better represent their constituents. Just as many politicians are now tripping over themselves to get on the right side of history in favor of marriage equality, they should be doing the same with ending cannabis prohibition, particularly since so many politicians will tell you "off the record" about how they used cannabis in college and personally support legalization.
I am so proud to be represented by Earl Blumenauer, who has taken the lead on marijuana legalization in the House of Representatives. If we had more Earl Blumenauers, our nation would be generating hundreds of millions of dollars and funding much-needed social services. Instead, we continue to waste tax payer dollars and law enforcement resources. However, these polls show that the days of cannabis prohibition are over and that marijuana legalization is inevitable. Politicians just need to figure out whether they want to be on the right side of history, or if they want the growing wave of public support to force their hand. If not careful, the public may replace timid politicians, unwilling to speak out on the issue, with new representatives who understand that we don't need to waste another dime or life on an unjust and failed policy.