Polls show that support for pot is higher than ever — now it's up to politicians to respond to what the masses are clamoring for.
In a turn of events that should shock approximately nobody reading this article, recent polling shows that the majority of Californians are happy with the wake of adult-use cannabis legalization, and the rest of the country seems to want what they're having because two-thirds of American citizens now favor federal measures to legalize pot. Man, doesn't it feel great to be right?
In a poll from Quinnipiac University released Feb. 6, 54 percent of California voters said that marijuana legalization has been good for their state, with only 31 percent of respondents holding the opposite opinion. Young people, men and Democrats were most positive post-legalization: 70 percent of respondents ages 18-34 were happy with legalization, as were 59 percent of men and 61 percent of Democrats. Least pleased were Republicans (a mere 31 percent thought legalization was a good thing) and voters over the age of 65, only 38 percent of whom expressed approval for California's adult-use revolution.
The Californian Case Study
These numbers seem to gel with what we already know about the broader national consensus on marijuana legalization. According to a Gallup poll from Oct. 2018, 66 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana. The group noted that not only was this "another new high" in American approval of legal pot, it was the third year in a row that record was broken.
In an arguably all-too-rare bipartisan turn, a majority of both Republicans and Democrats support legalization, with 53 percent of Republicans in favor of the policy and a whopping 75 percent of Democrats on board as well.
The feedback from these nationwide numbers has already been made apparent in the presidential campaigns of several politicians vying for the Democratic Party's nomination, most notably Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Kamala Harris. Booker made a point to mention the end of marijuana prohibition as a priority of his when he announced his campaign earlier this month, and Harris caught flack recently for her mixed record on the issue, no matter how gung-ho on cannabis she says she is in the present.
Based on Gallup's results, it seems not only will all serious Democratic presidential candidates have to address marijuana legalization — if they're smart, they'll listen to the people and support the end of prohibition.
Beyond Legal Bud
But something that Quinnipiac University's February poll addressed that neither every presidential candidate nor every state with legalization laws in place has fully reckoned with: What should become of marijuana-related criminal records once legalization is enacted?
California voters, for their part, spoke out strongly in favor of erasing criminal records for marijuana possession. Per a press release from California's NORML chapter, "there is almost no gender gap" when it comes to supporting the erasure of such records, and support for the measure was spread "strongly across all regions of California and all age groups." In total, 64 percent of respondents said they supported erasing marijuana possession records, with only 28 percent opposing.
"This poll shows that California voters are happy with marijuana legalization in the state, and moreover don't want to see people punished for possessing pot," said Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML, in a press release. "The dire consequences opponents warned of before voters approved Prop. 64 in 2016 to legalize the recreational use and sale of cannabis haven't materialized, and instead, the state is starting to see the benefits of a regulated market."
Unfortunately, as every marijuana enthusiast knows, just because something is popular doesn't mean the government is going to be smart or empathetic enough to make it happen, especially when minorities are the ones disproportionately shouldering the burden of cannabis prohibition.
But with a few politicians already promising drug war reparations, and many others quickly falling in line with whatever they think will make them stand out in the veritable sea of centrists and pseudo-progressives looking to unseat Trump, hopes should be higher than ever for some positive changes in the realm of federal cannabis legalization.
TELL US, what kind of reparations do you support in the wake of legalization?
This article first appeared in Cannabis Now.
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Clarice, a Melbourne-based writer, began her career covering the technology industry and now writes, edits and interviews subject matter experts in the Cannabis Industry.