Legal marijuana is coming

It’s truly only a matter of when.  I haven’t seen public opinion trendlines like this since way back in the days of… same-sex marriage.  The latest from Gallup:

Line graph of 1969 through 2018. Sixty-six percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana.

And even a bare majority of Republicans:

Line graph of 2000 through 2018. Support by party -- 53% of Republicans, 75% of Democrats support legalizing marijuana.

Importantly, this is not just generational replacement, people are changing their minds:

Line graph of support for legalizing marijuana by age: 78% of 18- to 34-year-olds, 65% of 35-54 and 59% of 55+ support it.

To me, the evidence is really, really clear that the benefits of legalization far outweigh the costs.  But that doesn’t mean there are no costs.  We should absolutely be smart about it.

So, yes, let’s do this smart.  Of course, it becomes harder to have a sensible conversation when the opposition is old Republican men of the Jeff Sessions “reefer madness!” variety who are still living in a delusional hellscape when it comes to marijuana.

I’m actually somewhat surprised Democrats are not pushing harder on this throughout the country.  Just need a very simple “sensible marijuana policy” or something like that message.  I really don’t think they would lose many votes and it would be just one more issue (i.e., added to climate and LGBT rights) to show young Americans that the old white dude Republicans are hopelessly out of touch.  Of course, as discussed those young Americans actually vote at low rates.  But, convince them more than ever that the Democratic party is the one for them and the dividends will be huge down the road as they age into more participation.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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