As contentious as politics have become these days, it seems Democrats and Republicans largely agree at least on one thing: Legal marijuana.
It used to be that Republicans, particularly those that leaned more conservative, were staunchly opposed to legalizing marijuana in any capacity, even for medicinal purposes. But those attitudes are clearly changing, as evidenced by a recent poll conducted by YouGov.com.
The poll measured attitudes toward the legalization of marijuana and then compared the answers given by gender, age, race, family income, U.S. Census region and political party, in mid-July 2016. It also asked respondents about their beliefs regarding whether marijuana use is a gateway to other drugs, whether government marijuana enforcement efforts cost more than they are worth and whether the federal government should abandon enforcement of marijuana drug laws in states where the plant is legal.
The inquiry was sent out as four states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – now have laws that fully allow the recreational use of marijuana. Still, the drug remains strictly prohibited under federal law, still classified as a Schedule I narcotic, meaning it’s considered to be highly addictive and possessing no beneficial medicinal quality. Clearly, respondents – even those who tended to be older and more conservative – largely believed that classification was outdated.
Indeed, overall support for full legalization for both medicinal and recreational use of the drug increased from 52 percent in December 2015 to 55 percent in July 2016. Accounting for the majority of this change? Republican attitudes.
As our L.A. marijuana lawyers understand it, the majority of Republicans now support legalization of marijuana – albeit narrowly – 45 percent to 42 percent.
Just as recently as December 2015, Republicans had opposed the legalization of marijuana – 50 percent to 36 percent. Prior to that in January 2014, the difference was even more stark – with 60 percent opposing the legalization of marijuana and only 28 percent supporting.
More broadly, attitudes toward marijuana haven’t changed all that much, which is how we know the shift in overall attitudes in recent months has been largely driven by a change in Republican views.
When asked whether they agreed that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth, 54 percent of Republicans agreed with this statement. Another 24 percent disagreed and 22 percent said they weren’t sure. This is compared to 71 percent of Democrats who agreed with the statement and 66 percent of Independents.
Older populations were slightly less likely to agree – 56 percent to 24 percent. But they still indicated that by-and-large, the tax dollars spent on marijuana prohibition efforts simply isn’t worth it, particularly in light of growing evidence of the many positive attributes and societal benefits of marijuana.
When asked specifically whether the federal government should continue to enforce federal laws in states that allow marijuana use, 48 percent of Republican respondents said it should not. Thirty-one percent said it should, but 22 percent weren’t sure. By comparison, 61 percent of Democrats said the government should forego its enforcement actions, 25 percent said officials should still enforce federal laws and 15 percent said they weren’t sure.
Republicans were only slightly less likely to have tried marijuana at some point in their past – 40 percent to Democrats’ 50 percent and Independents’ 47 percent.
Those selected for the survey were U.S. citizens over the age of 18.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Republican support for legal marijuana hits a new high, July 21, 2016, YouGov.com
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Marijuana Legalization and Employer Drug-Testing Policies, August 4, 2016, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog