The political movement for marijuana legalization is often compared to the political movement for marriage equality. Both causes are seen by their supporters as civil rights issues, and both are very popular among Democrats and progressives, particularly younger voters.
How does that translate to the state level? The Washington Post's Philip Bump created a great Venn diagram showing which states allow marijuana and same-sex marriage, but his diagram didn't distinguish between medical and recreational marijuana. This is a very crucial distinction, since marijuana is unusual in that it can be legalized for entirely different purposes — and many more states allow medical marijuana than recreational.
We decided to make a similar diagram that goes a little bit further, showing the intersection of states where same-sex marriage is legal, states where medical marijuana is legal, and states where recreational marijuana is legal or soon to be legal:
There's definitely overlap between the two issues. No state has marijuana legalization without marriage equality. All but one state with medical marijuana allow same-sex marriages. Twelve states have neither marriage equality nor marijuana legalization, while another 16 have one of the above.
It's also immediately obvious that many more states have marriage equality than marijuana legalization for either medical or recreational purposes. Much of that is due to court decisions that forced states, particularly in the South and Midwest, to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. But it's also true that, even though both issues receive similar levels of support in surveys, the marriage equality movement as a whole is more politically advanced. By its very nature, it can be an easier thing to campaign for.
"When it comes to [marriage] rights, it's the freedom to do the right thing," Fabio Rojas, a professor at Indiana University who studies social movements, said in a previous interview. "When you're talking about a personal vice like drinking alcohol or smoking drugs, that's the freedom to do wrong."