Pubdate: Thu, 22 Oct 2015
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2015 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Ricardo Baca, The Cannabist Staff


Support for cannabis legalization is at record highs in the U.S. 
according to Gallup poll, while new research shows marijuana use has 
doubled among U.S. adults in past decade

A record number of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, 
according to a new poll released Wednesday by international pollster Gallup.

And government surveys published Wednesday offered further 
indications that marijuana is moving into the mainstream nationally, 
nearly three years after Colorado voters legalized recreational pot.

Marijuana use among U.S. adults doubled over the past decade, rising 
to more than 22 million mostly recreational users, the surveys show.

The results come from a comparison of health surveys from 2001-02 and 
2012-13 sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and 
Alcoholism. Almost 80,000 adults aged 18 and older participated in 
face-to-face interviews about various health-related behaviors, 
according to results published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

In 2015, 58 percent of Americans say cannabis use should be legal in 
the U.S. - tying the highest acceptance numbers ( from 2013) in the 
Gallup's 46 years of asking Americans about marijuana. In 2014, the 
year between those record high pot polling percentages, 51 percent of 
Americans supported legalization.

The automated telephone Gallup poll was conducted Oct. 7-11 with a 
margin of error of 4 percentage points.

And Gallup predicts Americans' support for legalization will only 
increase in the years to come.

"Given the patterns of support by age, that percentage should 
continue to grow in the future," Jeffrey M. Jones wrote for Gallup. 
"Younger generations of Americans have been increasingly likely to 
favor legal use of marijuana as they entered adulthood compared with 
older generations of Americans when they were the same age decades 
ago. Now, more than seven in 10 of today's young adults support legalization."

Legalization proponents were quick to celebrate the news.

"The latest poll results point to the absurdity and even venality of 
persisting with harsh prohibitionist policies," Ethan Nadelmann, 
founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a 
statement. "No other law is enforced so harshly and pervasively yet 
deemed unnecessary by so many Americans. Spending billions of dollars 
and arresting 700,000 people annually for violating marijuana laws 
now represents not just foolish public policy but also an 
inappropriate and indecent use of police powers."

Added Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy 
Project and one of the primary forces behind Colorado's 
pot-legalizing Amendment 64 in 2012: "It's pretty clear which 
direction our nation is heading on this issue. The status quo has 
shifted. Marijuana prohibition has been a public policy disaster, and 
most Americans are ready to put it behind us and move on."

Marijuana Majority chairman Tom Angell said political leaders should 
pay attention to the shifting attitudes toward marijuana.

"The constant stream of surveys showing public support for ending 
prohibition is why we're seeing an increasing number of national 
politicians saying that it's time to at least let states implement 
their own laws without federal interference," Angell said.

Nadelmann agreed.

"More elected officials need to realize that legalizing marijuana is 
not just the right thing to do - it's the politically smart thing to 
do, too," he said.

Most recently this shift in political opinion was seen in the U.S.'s 
neighbor to the north, Canada, where the Liberal party on Monday 
swept national elections on a platform of change that included 
legalizing and regulating the sale of cannabis, as touted by Prime 
Minister-elect Justin Trudeau.

As with previous polls, younger Americans and Democrats/Independents 
were more likely to favor legalization than older voters and 
Republicans in Gallup's 2015 poll. That said, three of the four age 
groups Gallup delineates strongly supported legalization in the 2015 
poll - including those 18-34 years old (71 percent), those 35-49 (64 
percent) and those 50-64 (58 percent).

Only 35 percent of the 65-and-older group supported marijuana legalization.

"The effects of 80-plus years of anti-marijuana propaganda are slowly 
wearing off," Tvert said. "Once people realize that marijuana is 
actually safer than alcohol, they tend to agree that adults should 
not be punished just for consuming it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom