Support for marijuana legalization has reached a new record high nationally, with seven in 10 Americans—including a sizable majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents—now backing an end to prohibition, according to a Gallup poll.
The survey, released on Wednesday, shows that support for legalization is at its highest level since the firm started tracking public opinion on the issue in 1969, with majorities of every demographic polled in favor of the reform. Overall, seventy percent of respondents say they back legalization, which is a two percentage point increase from last year. Just 29 percent of Americans think cannabis should remain illegal.
Notably, Gallup found “no difference in support for legalization” between people living states that have already enacted the reform and those living in states where cannabis is only medically legal or altogether criminalized. “Seventy percent of adults in both groups are in favor,” the firm said.
There’s majority support for legalization across all genders, age categories, races, education levels, region, party affiliation and ideology.
“The nation has reached a broad consensus on legalizing marijuana, with a full seven in 10 now supportive,” Gallup said. “Not only do most U.S. adults favor it, but so do majorities of all major political and ideological subgroups.”
“Although some health organizations and political commentators have raised concerns about the medical risks of marijuana, this hasn’t blunted the public’s desire for legalization thus far,” the analysis says. “For now, the high level of support among younger adults suggests national backing will only expand in the years ahead, likely resulting in more states, and perhaps the federal government, moving to legalize it.”
Support has gradually increased over recent decades, and it’s grown dramatically as more states started to enact legalization before seeming to level off at 68 percent from 2019 to 2022.
The latest poll shows that 79 percent of those aged 18-34 back legalizing marijuana, compared to 71 percent of those 34-54 and 64 percent of those 55 and older.
Democrats were most likely to support legalization at a record 87 percent, followed by independents (69 percent) and Republicans (55 percent). Support among Republicans increased by four percentage points since 2022.
The poll—which involved interviews with 1,009 Americans from October 2-23—signals that, despite the overwhelming popularity of marijuana legalization among the public, there’s still room to expand that majority opinion.
For historical context, when Gallup started surveying Americans about legalization in 1969, just 12 percent of respondents said that they oppose prohibition.
Despite majority support for legalization among Republicans, Gallup pointed out in a report earlier this year that a partisan divide has widened over the past two decades as Democrats have been even quicker to embrace the issue.
That’s consistent with a broader trend that the firm identified in the report, showing how partisan gaps have widened on a variety of issues, including those where there’s still majority support across party lines. Marijuana legalization still sees a smaller divide compared to many of the other hot button issues like global warming, gun control and abortion.
Still, a series of other polls that were released earlier this year similarly show that most Americans are ready to end federal marijuana prohibition, regardless of party affiliation.
While 24 states have now enacted adult-use legalization—in addition to the vast majority that authorize some form of medical cannabis—federal reform has lagged far behind the public. GOP lawmakers in particular have generally resisted the issue despite the growing bipartisan support among their constituencies.
Voters in the swing state of Ohio were the latest to approve legalization at the ballot on Tuesday. And based on the outcome of a state Supreme Court case, the critical presidential election state of Florida could also decide on the issue next year.
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.