Marijuana Legalization Remains Low Priority For Most Americans

By Kelly Burch 05/28/19

Only 2% of Americans polled said that legalization was an important issue for them when deciding who they will vote for in the 2020 election.

Marijuana Legalization

While more Americans than ever are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, most believe that there are more pressing priorities that the government needs to focus on, according to polling. 

Last fall, Gallup released a poll showing that for the first time ever two-thirds of Americans said that they are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. 

“Like support for gay marriage—and in prior years, interracial marriage—support for marijuana legalization has generally only expanded, even if slowly, over the course of multiple decades—raising the question of where the ceiling in support might be,” the Gallup poll concluded. “As the percentage of Americans who favor legalizing pot has continued to grow, so has the number of states that have taken up legislation to allow residents to use the substance recreationally.”

Despite that, Americans don’t seem to think that legalizing marijuana is a priority for the government right now. A recent CNN poll asked voters to rank what issue is most important to them when deciding who they will vote for in the 2020 election. Just 2% said marijuana is the most important issue for them. 

Likewise, in a Gallup poll released in February asking Americans about the biggest problems the country faced, no respondents mentioned marijuana policy. Interestingly, the opioid epidemic also did not rate in that poll. Instead, Americans are mostly concerned about “the government/poor leadership,” immigration and healthcare. 

A Pew poll from January asked what the government’s priorities for 2019 should be. In that poll, marijuana policy did not rank, but 49% of respondents said that addressing “drug addiction” should be a top priority. 

Despite the fact that very few Americans believe that marijuana policy should be prioritized by the government, it has become an issue for 2020 presidential candidates and other political hopefuls.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California who is running for president, has spoken out in favor of legalization. 

"Something else it's past time we get done is dismantling the failed war on drugs—starting with legalizing marijuana," she wrote in her book, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. "We need to legalize marijuana and regulate it, and we need to expunge nonviolent marijuana-related offenses from the records of millions of people who have been arrested and incarcerated so they can get on with their lives.”

The World Health Organization has also called for marijuana to be rescheduled into a less restrictive class. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.