New poll shows 9 in 10 Americans support legal pot

A new poll released Tuesday shows nearly nine in 10 Americans believe cannabis in some form should be legal, with a strong majority saying adult recreational marijuana should be legalized. The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center last month, was released online on Nov. 22 after being conducted in the first half of October.

The results of the poll, essentially unchanged from a similar poll conducted in April 2021, showed that 88% of American adults polled believe marijuana should be legalized. More than half (59%) said medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis should be legal, while almost a third (30%) said cannabis should only be legalized for medical use. Only one in ten respondents said marijuana should be illegal in all cases.

Support for legalization based on age

Support for legalizing recreational marijuana was highly divided by respondents’ age, with just 30% of those over 75 believing that all forms of cannabis should be legalized. In contrast, 72% of 18-29 year olds said both recreational and medical cannabis should be legalized, while 62% of those aged 30-49 said the same thing. Just over half (54%) of adults ages 50 to 64 said both recreational and medical marijuana should be legal, and 53% ages 65 to 74 agreed.

The new poll also found varying levels of support for marijuana legalization based on respondents’ political affiliations. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Democrats and pro-democracy independents said they believe marijuana should be legal for both recreational and medical use, and another 21% said only medical marijuana should be legalized . Among Liberal Democrats, 84% said both forms of cannabis should be legal, while nearly two-thirds (63%) of Moderate and Conservative Democrats said they had the same view.

However, less than half (45%) of Republicans and independents who are pro-Republican voters said both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis should be legal, while another 39% said only medical marijuana should be legalized. A majority (60%) of Moderate and Liberal Republicans said both medical and recreational marijuana should be legalized, while fewer than four in 10 (37%) Conservative Republicans said both forms of cannabis should be legal.

Poll after announcement of presidential pardon

The new poll came after President Joe Biden announced Oct. 6 that he had pardoned all federal convictions for simple marijuana possession and encouraged state governors across the country to take similar action. At the same time, the President directed the US Attorney General and the head of the Department of Health and Human Services to review cannabis debt restructuring under federal drug laws.

About three weeks after the poll closed, voters in five states decided to vote to legalize recreational marijuana in the November midterm elections. Legalization offers were successful in Maryland and Missouri, while similar proposals were defeated by voters in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The new Pew Research Center poll, conducted Oct. 10-16, also identified varying levels of support for marijuana legalization among different racial groups. A majority of white (60%) and black (68%) adults supported ending bans on both medical and adult-use cannabis. In contrast, less than half of Hispanic (49%) and Asian (48%) respondents said they support full legalization.
The overall results of the poll are similar to a recently released Gallup poll, which also showed strong support for marijuana legalization. In this poll, conducted October 3-20, which did not differentiate between medical cannabis and recreational marijuana, more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said they support legalization, a record high for the survey means. A University of Monmouth poll released last month showed similar support.

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