No ‘buyer’s remorse’ for legalization, says Pew poll

Published on March 29, 2024 by Special to the oz.

Cannabis criminalization still results in arrests in the US. Photo: Adobe stock/the oz.

Nearly nine in 10 Americans are not in favour of cannabis criminalization, saying they support legalization for either medical or adult use, according to nationwide polling compiled by the Pew Research Center.

The results are consistent with those of prior Pew polls finding that only about 10% of US adults support a blanket policy of cannabis criminalization.

Twenty-four states have legalized marijuana for adults and 38 states regulate medical cannabis access to qualified patients.

“There’s no ‘buyer’s remorse’ among the public when it comes to legalizing cannabis,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “As more states have adopted legalization, public support for this policy has risen dramatically. That’s because these policies are largely working as intended and because voters prefer legalization and regulation over the failed policy of cannabis prohibition. Elected officials who refuse to take action to end cannabis criminalization do so at their own political peril.”

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that cannabis should be legal for both medical and adult use, while 32 percent of those surveyed supported medical marijuana legalization only. Consistent with prior polls, support for legalizing cannabis was strongest among Democrats and younger voters (those ages 18 to 29), and it was weakest among more politically conservative-leaning voters and those over the age of 75. In particular, 42 percent of Republicans said that legalizing marijuana leads to the use of other drugs, like heroin and cocaine, whereas fewer than one in five Democrats believed the so-called ‘gateway theory.’

According to a 2021 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there exists “little compelling evidence to suggest that recreational marijuana laws result in increases in illicit drug use, drug-involved overdoses, or drug-related treatment admissions for addiction.”

— Contributed