Before we get into the numbers from a new poll from Hill-HarrisX, many of you know how I feel about polls on legalization: It shouldn’t matter what other people think of what you do, but because of prohibition it’s important to have popular support for the re-legalization of cannabis, so here we are.
According to this particular poll, 84% of respondents approve of some form of marijuana legalization while only 16% support some form of criminalization. That’s an impressive number to be sure, although half of the support for legalization is for medicinal-only.
Breaking down the numbers further shows us the usual demographic divisions, with older, more conservative folks being the least likely to favor legalization. But even there we are seeing growing support among older people, especially when it comes to medical marijuana.
“The younger you are, the more likely you are to favor it and it’s just a matter of time before public opinion finally works its way and marijuana use is generally legalized,” said Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “In this case, the laws are well behind public opinion.”
To be fair, we are seeing an advancement in policy that mirrors the advancement in public opinion, just with some lag time. That’s great, but again, we shouldn’t need to beg for the support of strangers to legally do things that don’t infringe on the rights of anyone else. Activists and pundits track political polls like we are the campaign manager for a local city comptroller candidate.
And as the number of states that haven’t passed legalization yet dwindles – and have citizen petition ballot access to do so – the cannabis community is forced to figure out more and more ways to translate public support into lawmaker support.
And we are. There are hits and misses, victories and setbacks; but overall the momentum of the cannabis law reform movement is forward, and it’s been that way for several decades now. An inexorable march toward the old status quo when it comes to marijuana, a lack of prohibition.
To be sure, progress is slower than it should be, there’s no doubt about that. But that is all the more reason to keep pushing forward. Cannabis prohibition has stood for too long and has destroyed an unimaginable number of lives. It’s up to us to end it, once and for all.