The vast majority of Americans support marijuana legalization. Nearly 60%, in fact, according to a new survey from Pew Research.
That's a major change from just 10 short years ago, when the stats were largely flipped: "just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed," writes Pew.
So, what's driving this huge change?
The same group of people driving much of today's cultural and political change: Millennials.
In fact, across the past 10 years, the group of folks in that age range has evolved its views on marijuana legalization considerably. Just 34% of 18- to 35-year-olds supported marijuana legalization in 2006; now, over 70% of that group supports outright legalization.
To be clear, we're not talking about medical use — we're talking about full-on, outright legalization, of the kind practiced in Colorado and Washington already. Pew asked poll respondents the following yes/no question: "Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?"
But the shift isn't limited to millennials — members of Gen-X (who would have previously fit into the 18-35 category, but now fit into the 36- to 51-year-old group) are also in favor of legalization: 57% favor it, in fact. Even so-called baby-boomers are in favor of legalization, with 56% support.
All of this of course begs the question: Who are the holdouts? Who are the folks still in favor of keeping marijuana law as it's been for 100 years?
Two demographic groups are the main culprits. The first group Pew defines as "Silent" — these are 71- to 88-year-olds. They are against legalization, 59% against to 33% in favor.
The other group isn't defined generationally: self-identified Republicans are against legalization, 55% against to 41% in favor. That breaks down when you start looking at subdivisions of Republicanism: moderate-leaning versus liberal-leaning, for instance. As you might expect, moderate and liberal Republicans are in favor of legalization, while more conservative Republicans are against it.
Regardless of the political demographics tied to marijuana legalization on a nation-wide scale, individual US states are already making moves toward legalization. A whopping nine states will vote this November on initiatives to legalize some form of marijuana use — five of those states are voting on full-on recreational legalization.
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