Most Americans Now Favor Legalizing Marijuana
In what is being called a milestone for legalization advocates, a new Gallup poll shows that 58 percent of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana. This marks the first time that the majority of the country has supported marijuana legalization, although previous studies have shown similar trends. When Gallup first began polling Americans on the issue in 1968, just 12 percent of Americans supported legalization.
With the stigma of recreational and medicinal marijuana use fading, nearly 40 percent of adults admit to having tried marijuana, compared to just four percent when polling began in the late-sixties. The legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington have also helped support with legalization with polling showing a 10 percent jump in support since last November alone.
The issue has even transcended age, with a record 45 percent of Americans over 65 supporting legalization. Nearly 70 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 support legalization. Clearly, support for the movement will only keep growing with younger voters hitting the voting booths each year.
While Colorado and Washington are the only states to have legalized recreational use, 20 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Several states have proposed legislation to decriminalize or outright legalize marijuana.
Other countries in the Americas that are dealing with drug problems of a much higher level than marijuana are looking to legalize the marijuana nationally. Mexico, Uruguay, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela are all in the process of legalizing marijuana. Ironically, in Uruguay, only about a third of the population supports legalization, far from the nearly 60 percent we see in the United States.
The Latin Americans countries see this as a way of lowering their crime rates and stopping over-spending on policing and imprisoning marijuana users. In the United States, the war on marijuana costs taxpayers an estimated $42 billion per year. That’s enough to hired 880,000 school teachers or put $140 per year back in the pocket of every American. That number also accounts for the lost tax revenues that states like Washington and Colorado can now use to plug holes in their budgets.