A growing majority of Americans – regardless of age or political affiliation – think federal prohibitions on marijuana should be deep sixed. Newly released data from General Social Survey, which has been tracking support for legalization since the early 1970s, reveals that 61% of Americans supported legalization of marijuana last year, up from 57% two years earlier.
The GSS findings mirror those of a survey conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, which found 62% of U.S. adults support marijuana legalization.
An analysis of the GSS survey data by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found support for marijuana legalization cuts across all age groups and political parties. In fact, the 2018 survey findings mark the first time a majority of Republicans (54%) said they supported legalization, AP reported. Among Democrats, a resounding 76% support legalization.
Support for eliminating prohibitions is strongest among the youngest adults, with nearly 75% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 favoring marijuana legalization. Among older Americans (those over 65), 46% favor legalization, up from 42% in 2016.
To date, at least 33 states have legalized marijuana and other cannabis products (like CBD) for medicinal and/or recreational uses. But cannabis and its derivatives have remained illegal under federal law. A crack in that wall of federal prohibition appeared last year, however, with passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which deleted hemp from the list of drugs prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. As a result, CBD products derived from hemp (a close cousin of marijuana) are legal under federal law.
Marijuana legalization could be shaping up to be a campaign issue in the 2020 elections. The Boston Globe reported in late February that its interviews with likely candidates for President found all Democratic Party contenders and at least one Republican hopeful, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, favored some path to marijuana legalization.