It looks like the tide could be turning in the case of marijuana legalization. A new Gallup poll shows that for the first time, a majority of Republicans express support for legalizing marijuana.
The 51 percent majority is up nine percentage points from last year. As for the rest of America, a total of 64 percent of those polled said that marijuana usage should be legal.
Gallup has been polling on the issue since 1969 – the newest percentages show the highest level of public support for legalizing marijuana in nearly 50 years.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized marijuana, likely impacting views of the drug in other states. Should marijuana be legalized, the industry could be regulated and taxed, bringing in huge amounts of revenue to put back into schools and infrastructure. Medical research would advance and those who desperately need access to medical marijuana for a number of conditions would face no barriers.
The figure below chronicles the shift in public opinion since 1969.
When Gallup first asked the question almost half a century ago, only 12 percent of adults nationally supported legalization. Support more than doubled by the end of the next decade, took a dip in the 1980s and 1990s, and has been increasing steadily since.
Currently, more than one in five Americans live in a state where they can use marijuana legally. A majority of Americans have supported legalizing the drug since 2013.
The trend in the Gallup poll closely mirrors the trajectory that polls on same-sex marriage have followed over the past few decades. In both cases, “about a quarter” supported legalizing marijuana and same-sex marriage in the late 1990s, and support rose steadily since.
Gallup notes that in the past several years, Americans have become more liberal on a variety of social issues.
Perhaps that’s why Republicans are working so hard to push us back into the middle ages.
Trump’s Department of Justice has presented itself as harsh on state-level marijuana legalization. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, famous for once saying he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot”, could very well find himself in opposition to his own party should the trend toward legalization continue.