For the first time pretty much ever, a majority of Americans approve legalizing cannabis based on the findings of a recent poll.
According to an article for USA Today, the latest General Social Survey poll taken by the National Opinion Research Center states that out of all subjects polled, 51.7% support legal cannabis, 41.7% oppose it, and 6.6% are undecided. While this is still a narrow margin, it is clearly up from the 43.3% who supported cannabis legalization in 2012.
While this is not surprising in light of the fact that four states and one district have now legalized cannabis, and many more have approved medical cannabis of some sort, this is still huge because of the oppressive stigma that has worked against the advancement of legal marijuana for so long. Even this amount of support is a major achievement compared to the way people felt about the plant in the past.
"It's a classic tipping point, where we have the majority of Americans supporting it," Tom W. Smith, who serves as the director of the GSS, and also works as a senior fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago, told USA Today. "While there's people still opposed to it, there have not been horror stories about Colorado falling apart. Even those who don't want to take a toke themselves don't see it as a gateway drug and reefer madness. There are fewer people buying into that."
The Marijuana Policy Project also issues a statement declaring that this shows the American people are finally through buying the propaganda regarding cannabis, and believe that it is a safe and harmless substance. "Marijuana has been a relatively prominent part of American culture for decades, and that's never going to change," stated Morgan Fox, who serves as a spokesman for Marijuana Policy Project. "Either we continue to force it into the underground market or we start regulating it and treating it like other products that are legal for adults. Federal and state officials who are clinging to marijuana prohibition need to get over it and allow society to move forward."
However, some skeptics are stating that this narrow margin does not take into account the fact that some people may support legalization in theory, only because they don’t have to live with it in their backyards. "It's tough for teachers, social workers, and scientists to get their message out in the face of Big Pot's PR machine — which is able to promise tax revenue and an end to cartel violence," stated Kevin Sabet, who serves as executive director ofSmart Approaches to Marijuana. “There continues to be a wide gap between what science knows and what the public perceives about marijuana. And the last time I checked, scientists were pretty bad at publicizing their findings. Though advocates won in three states last November, they lost in 26 out of 31 localities that were voting on whether or not to allow pot shops in their neighborhood. That tells me that legalization in theory gets more support than legalization in practice. And the irony is that the more Big Marijuana tries to lean in on communities, I think the more likely it is we will see a backlash. That may take some time, but we are in it for the long haul."
Despite the fact that all are not completely on board yet, this is great news overall for the cannabis industry. Marijuana was looked down upon and classified as dangerous for so long, and the fact that even a narrow majority are now seeing it as a benign is a huge positive that will lead to many more great things in the future.