Everybody but old people wants legal marijuana

Nice Fact Tank piece from Pew, looking at the latest public opinion data on marijuana.  It’s moving not quite as fast as gay marriage did, but in 2008, we were still a 50-50 country on the issue, but the latest polling has support for legalization up to 57% and opposition only 37%.  That’s a pretty dramatic shift.

Also, note, this is not just generational replacement, but every generation is getting more pro-legalization.  And it should also be noted, that we have reached the point where only old people actually oppose legalization.

So, why aren’t politicians catching up?  Well, in some states they are.  Among other things, it speaks to the hugely disproportionate influence of old people (who always have and always will turn out to vote in disproportionate numbers).

We’re surely not going to have sensible laws on all drugs any time soon.  But damn it, the time is certainly here for sensible laws on marijuana.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

8 Responses to Everybody but old people wants legal marijuana

  1. Jon K says:

    Real change on this requires action on the federal level. State governments can do all they want, but that will just lead to what I just saw in language in the lease that I just signed. It specifically listed any violation of federal marijuana laws whether charged, or suspected, and regardless of state law as a breach of the lease and grounds for immediate eviction. As long as federal law makes marijuana equivalent to heroin people can and will face ridiculous consequences for using it.

    Also until federal law changes marijuana usage will be deemed to be a potential risk to national security and will hinder any potential federal employee from a speedy determination on a security clearance application. That can lead to 6-12 months of limbo while an investigation is conducted.

    • ohwilleke says:

      Legalization where it has happened has depended on assurances from the Justice Department and Congress that people in compliance with state laws on the subject won’t be prosecuted even though it is illegal under federal law. Without that, it would never have gotten far.

      But, there are work arounds for a lack of access to the banking system, a lack of access to federal courts including bankruptcy courts, and the like, and while Internal Revenue Code 280E is a genuine burden on marijuana dispensaries, it isn’t so insurmountable that the industry will die.

      Sooner or later, enough states will have some form of legalization that the momentum to change federal law more thoughtfully on the subject will prevail, probably during Hillary Clinton’s administration.

  2. rgbact says:

    I’m sure theres no correlation with dope and drugs becoming more popular and Donald Trump being a nominee for president. As I’ve said before, the Left might want to consider the consequences of endless cultural rot.

    • Jon K says:

      Marijuana = endless cultural rot? That is just such an incorrect and over-simplifed analysis of the situation that it is hard to even know where to start with addressing it.

      I could make a libertarian argument of it being an issue of personal freedom.

      I could make a revenue argument that it is better for the government to get the revenues from marijuana trade via taxation rather than 100% of the profits staying in shadowy black market networks.

      I could make a public health argument and cite research that shows marijuana is better than alcohol in terms of damage done to the body, domestic violence rates, and traffic fatalities.

      But I guess it’s just easier to label it cultural rot and move on with my smug know it all attitude intact. Right?

    • Steve Greene says:

      Oh my. I expect better.

  3. ohwilleke says:

    The barrier to legalization was always the parade of horribles. (To some extent with gay marriage as well). Once it was legalized somewhere and the sky didn’t fall, it has become popular everywhere.

  4. R. Jenrette says:


    I couldn’t find anything more current than 2014. As a rare drinker and not a marijuana user, the legal use of marijuana seems problematic to me.
    I can see moving marijuana off the lists with heroin. I can see decriminalizing marijuana without legalizing it. I can support developing better tests to establish blood levels.

    • Jon K says:

      It is a sad but true fact that much of what the government drug policy puts out regarding marijuana is little more than propaganda. Yes the reports show that people in fatal accidents may test positive for marijuana, but someone who uses marijuana regularly will test positive for 3 months after they stop using it. There is no accurate way to determine when someone used the marijuana and if it was a factor in the crash. They are using correlation as causation to draw conclusions that the data doesn’t support.

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