New Gallup Poll on Marijuana Legalization Support

Anjana Viswanathan - Author

Nov. 20 2020, Updated 12:35 p.m. ET

A recent Gallup poll data found that nearly 66% of Americans support making cannabis legal. However, this figure was the same as in 2018. This suggests a standstill in the rise in support of cannabis legalization. Moreover, nine states will be voting in 2020 on measures to allow cannabis for recreational or medical use.

The Gallup poll was conducted during the first two weeks of October. In 2018, we saw a lift in the percentage of people supporting cannabis legalization, creating a new record. As per the October 2019 poll, the percentage was the same.

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A look into the history of the poll results

In 1969, only 12% of Americans supported the legalization of cannabis, as per a Gallup poll. This acceptance grew to 20% in the 1970s. However, the rise in approval among the Americans became dormant until the new millennium, when momentum for legalization propelled one more time.

From 2000, acceptance spiked, hiking to nearly 50% in 2013. This followed the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado and Washington in 2012 via ballot initiatives. Those were the first states to start. However, at the federal level, cannabis is still against the law.

Gallup poll results show growing support

As per the recent Gallup poll data, there is a general increase across most of the subgroups in support of legalizing cannabis when compared to 2000. With regard to US politics, the number of Democrats in favor is more than 76% now. In 2000, it was only 32%. Similarly, the percentage of Republicans inflated to 51%. This is from 22% in 2000. However, there is a slight decline when compared to 53% in 2018.

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In terms of age groups, there is a rise in the support for legalization from the younger adults. About 71% of 30- to 49-year-olds are in favor. There was a 65% approval in 35- to 54-year-olds in 2018. Also, among adults older than 18, the percentage in favor rose to 81% versus 78% in 2018. The 81% in favor includes adults under age 30 and 80% of the larger millennial generation subgroup. This group is made up of people born between 1980 and 2000.

Taking into consideration the ethnicity, the Gallup poll found “Majorities of major U.S. racial and ethnic subgroups endorse the legalization of marijuana, but blacks are more likely to hold this view than whites, while Hispanics show even less support.”

Reasons for the surge in support for cannabis legalization

Over the past 10 years, we see a rapid change in the opinion of Americans towards making cannabis legal. This attitude shift happened after constant resistance from the public for 40 years. One main reason appears to be the apparent generation gap involved in vouching for the cannabis legalization.

Further, it will not be surprising if the current portion of the population that endorse marijuana legalization continues to rise in the coming years. In addition, the reason for the rise in public support may be due to the legalization in many states across the US. It could be either for medical or recreational purposes. This could lead the public across the other states to want the same.

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State of cannabis legalization in the US

Currently, 33 states have legalized cannabis for medical uses and 15 states have decriminalized cannabis. In addition, 11 states approved the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. However, as per federal law, cannabis is still illegal.

Further, cannabis legalization could expand to more states this November. Residents of Michigan and North Dakota will decide whether to allow recreational use. Also, those in Missouri and Utah shall decide on medical use. Further, in Utah, Governor Gary Herbert will assemble a particular session in November to discuss an alternative medical marijuana proposal.

Where the presidential candidates stand in the polls

Most of the Democratic contestants are generally in support of legal cannabis in any form. Bernie Sanders was the first to propose cannabis legalization. Plus, Sanders is active in voicing his favor via social media platforms. This is similar to the opinions of those on the political left.

However, the only Democratic candidate to oppose the idea is Joe Biden. However, he does support decriminalizing it. Thus, this will allow the states to decide on the legality of cannabis. In this case, President Donald Trump has remained quiet on his views regarding legalizing marijuana. However, he is in complete support in allowing the states to frame their own marijuana policies.

Cannabis companies will benefit

Cannabis producers will certainly benefit from legalization. Also, other companies involved with cannabis companies will benefit, too. These companies include growers like OrganiGram Holdings (OGI), Hexo Corp. (HEXO), Tilray (TLRY), Aurora Cannabis (ACB), and Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC).

Other companies that will benefit are New Age Beverages (NBEV) and GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH). These companies make products from cannabis. Also, the companies that offer support systems, such as Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR), benefit.


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