Cannabis was first prohibited at the federal level in the United States in 1937. For several decades cannabis was prohibited everywhere in the U.S. That changed in 1996 when California voters approved a medical cannabis legalization initiative, which made California the first state to end cannabis prohibition for some of its citizens.
Since the successful vote in California in 1996 several other states have also legalized cannabis for medical use. In 2012 two states, Colorado and Washington State, voted to legalize cannabis for adult use.
Zoom forward to 2019 and dozens of states have legalized cannabis for medical use and nearly a dozen states have legalized cannabis for adult-use. Washington D.C. has legalized cannabis for both medical and adult use. More states appear to be on their way to being added to one or both lists.
Results for two new polls were released this week which found super-majorities for ending cannabis prohibition at the federal level in the U.S. The first was a poll conducted by PRRI, which determined the following:
Americans are broadly supportive of several issues that are championed by leading Democratic candidates: making college tuition free at public institutions (68%), making recreational use of marijuana legal (67%), and a “Medicare for All” plan that would replace private health insurance with government-backed health insurance coverage for all Americans (63%). About one in three Americans strongly favor each of these proposals.
It is worth noting that cannabis legalization is a bipartisan issue now, and is being championed by lawmakers on both ends of the political spectrum. The second poll results were released by Gallup, which has asked U.S. voters every year if they support cannabis legalization, going all the way back to 1969. Per Gallup’s 2019 poll result release:
Americans’ support for legalizing marijuana has held steady at 66% over the past year, after rising 30 percentage points between 2005 and 2018.
The latest results are based on Gallup’s annual Crime survey, conducted Oct. 1-13. Not only have 66% favored legalizing marijuana in the 2018 and 2019 Crime polls, but the same level of support was found in an intervening Gallup survey, conducted in May.
In Gallup’s first poll conducted on this subject in 1969, only 12% of U.S. voters stated that they supported federal legalization. With more states getting on the right side of history and support for federal legalization remaining strong, these poll results should serve as validation that U.S. voters consider state-level cannabis legalization to be working.