We all know that support for cannabis legalization is growing all the time, but did you know that Republicans, well, at least the millennial Republicans, are mostly in support of legalization too? In light of recent legislative changes, young Republicans are showing as much support for cannabis as their more liberal counterparts.
According to a recent report done by the Pew Research Foundation, 52% of the millennial generation who identify as Republicans say that they are in support of medical cannabis legalization, as of October 2014. The article also notes that, “When looking more closely at the opinions of young and old, the age gap is starkest among Republicans and those who lean Republican – a strikingly similar trend to what we’ve seen within the party when it comes to same sex marriage.” In other words, more young Republicans are switching over their support to this cause than any other group.
A more specific breakdown of this research reveals that 63% of the GOP millennials polled said that they support legal cannabis, while 35% still want to keep it illegal. Republicans of “generation x” have a 47% support rate, baby boomers supported at 38%, and the silent generation supports at 17%. This shows that while each group is growing, it certainly seems that the most support is coming from the younger individuals polled.
While Republicans might be showing more support for the world of legal cannabis than they have in the past, Democrats are still in the lead as the liberal majority on this issue. According to an article published by the Pew Research Foundation at pewresearch.org, “Republican Millennials, however, are not as supportive of marijuana legalization as their young Democratic and Democratic-leaning counterparts. Democrats overall are more enthusiastic supporters, with three-in-four (77%) Democratic Millennials favoring legal marijuana use, as well as 66% of Boomers, 61% of Gen Xers and 44% of the Silent generation inside the party. Across every generational divide, Democrats show higher support than Republicans on this issue.”
This change is evident from the past year’s full legalization happening across the country, most recently in Alaska, the District of Columbia, and Oregon. The majority of voters who turned out to vote on this issue are Republican, and this would not have been possible without the support of young Republican voters as well as the young Democrats. This is even more important to consider in light of the upcoming elections, as the millennial vote will be a huge deciding factor, and getting more Republicans on board to support a liberal candidate would be key to the success of that candidate. "The debate over marijuana also comes ahead of the 2016 presidential election, the Pew article states, “when both political parties are fighting over the coveted Millennial vote as this group of eligible voters swells in size, even if its members do not consistently show up on Election Day."
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all pollable adults are completely on board with all aspects of legalizing cannabis. 54% of the Americans polled said that they feared legalization could increase use by underage people. However, the tide is definitely changing, as another poll showed that U.S. citizens overall think that alcohol is more harmful than the cannabis, at a whopping 76%. This figure included both Democrats and Republicans.
Another interesting trend in addition to support from millennials comes from the baby boomer generations. While it is no surprise that they outspokenly backed cannabis in poles during the 60s and 70s, support from their generation dipped in the 80s during the War on Drugs. Now, the baby boomers are again showing support for legal cannabis in light of recent changes nationwide.
These positive changes point to more legalization in the future, and spell out good things for this growing and ever-evolving industry.