The overwhelming majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, according to two recent surveys from major polling organizations.
The newest poll, from the Pew Research Center, found that 67 percent of Americans now back marijuana legalization, up from 62 percent in 2018. Opposition to legalization also dropped to 32 percent, down from 34 percent last year.
Pew also asked respondents about what kind of legalization they back. About 59 percent said they want medical and recreational legalization, while 32 percent said they only want medical legalization. Only 8 percent said neither.
Pew found that even a majority — 55 percent — of Republicans support legalizing pot. About 78 percent of Democrats do as well.
At the same time, another recent poll by Gallup found 66 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, the same as Gallup found last year. Gallup also found that a majority of both Republicans and Democrats support legalization.
Marijuana legalization has had some big victories in the past few years. The first two states — Colorado and Washington — legalized in 2012. In the seven years since, nine more states and Washington, DC, have legalized, with Illinois’ legislature most recently becoming the first legislature to legalize commercial sales of marijuana for recreational uses.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates have increasingly thrown their support behind legalization. With the exception of Joe Biden, the higher-polling Democrats back it.
Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the hundreds of thousands of arrests around the US, the racial disparities behind those arrests, and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for illicit marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — such as increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization.
Opponents, however, claim that legalization will enable a huge marijuana industry that will market the drug irresponsibly. They point to America’s experiences with the alcohol and tobacco industries in particular, which have built their financial empires in large part on some of the heaviest consumers of their products. This could result in more people using pot, even if it leads to negative health consequences.
For more on marijuana legalization, read Vox’s explainer.