New Poll Shows Support For Weed At All-Time High

By Keri Blakinger 10/26/15

Pot's favorability has been steadily rising over the past few decades.

Pot Smoking Grandmas
Even grandma likes it. Photo via

A new poll released last week shows that nearly six in 10 Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana.

In 1969, just 12% of Americans favored legalizing marijuana. That number increased until 1977, when it reached 28% and then started decreasing again. By the mid-'80s, pot's favorability was on the upswing again.

By 2001, 34% favored legalization and by 2009 that number soared to 44%. It dipped slightly in 2012 and again in 2014, but in both 2013 and 2015, 58% of respondents said they favored legalization.

Previous polls have shown that age and political affiliation can be predictive of an individual’s stance on legalization. Not surprisingly, younger Americans, Democrats, and independents are more likely to favor legalization than older Americans and Republicans.

Perhaps surprisingly, young people have not always been overwhelmingly supportive. In 1969, only 20% of survey subjects in the 20 to 34 age range favored legalization, but today 71% in that age group approve. In 1969, just 4% of senior citizens approved of legalizing, while today 35% do.

Even as the public has become increasingly okay with marijuana use and as states have begun legalizing it, the number of marijuana arrests still remains high. Last year, there were more than 700,000 pot arrests in the U.S., or one every 45 seconds.

“The latest poll results point to the absurdity and even venality of persisting with harsh prohibitionist policies,” Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement. “No other law is enforced so harshly and pervasively yet deemed unnecessary by so many Americans. Spending billions of dollars and arresting 700,000 people annually for violating marijuana laws now represents not just foolish public policy but also an inappropriate and indecent use of police powers."

“More elected officials need to realize that legalizing marijuana is not just the right thing to do—it’s the politically smart thing to do too,” Nadelmann concluded.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.