A growing number of Americans support marijuana legalization, according to a recent Civic Science survey. The researchers studied a sample of over 450,000 adult Americans and asked if they would support a state law that would legalize, tax and regulate cannabis like alcohol. The result was 58 percent favored, 35 percent opposed legalization and the rest had no opinion. The following analysis examines why Americans now overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization.
Analyzing the Pot Supporter
Men turn out to be more loyal supporters of marijuana than women as 60 percent of men favor legalization compared with 55 percent of women. The biggest group of loyal supporters by age is the 25-34 age group. The only age group that does not support legalization is 65 and over. Support level is slightly higher the higher the education level. Supporters tend to enjoy entertainers such as George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Colbert. This crowd associates with brands such as Starbucks, Whole Foods and Chipotle.
The Pot Market
There is plenty of tax money to collect on pot, which is the root of why many lawmakers support legalization. Raising state revenue from the sale of pot can resolve short term budget problems. Since so many state budgets face uncertainty, medical marijuana tax is somewhat of an easy solution. The State of California makes about $100 million per year in state taxes on revenue of about $1 billion, according to the California State Board of Equalization. The tax rate is a little over 8 percent.
The fact that states can earn easy revenue off of medical marijuana has caused many people of both parties to rethink their politics about cannabis. While it appears that southern Republican states make up most of the holdout of support for medical marijuana as a national issue, even conservative states like Oklahoma are considering the drug for medical use. In other words, most of the arguments against marijuana have been debunked or drowned out by common sense and the opportunity to make money that will pay down debt and perhaps improve education.
Voting Power of the Pot Block
Among people who support legalization, 58 percent voters say they vote while a higher percentage of anti-pot people vote on election day. That means that the pot support at the polls depends on voter turnout and that low turnout favors the anti-pot crowd. Successful measures at the polls are what originally started the snowball effect of state after state legalizing marijuana, starting with California in 1996. As far as candidates who support marijuana legalization, they tend to have an edge. In the November 2014 election, voters in Oregon, Alaska and Florida will get to decide on marijuana issues.
Another Study Shows Similar Results
A similar marijuana study was published by the Pew Foundation in April 2014, showing 54 percent support for legalization. The results are close enough to be attributed to margin of error. Clearly, there is a growing trend in sentiment toward legalizing marijuana as 23 states have done so in the past few decades. The trend suggests that marijuana is favored by the American mainstream, unlike the polls from last century.
The Future of the Marijuana Mainstream
Support for medical and recreational marijuana legalization has grown partly through the internet as a platform to share information and forums for debate. It has become a much bigger topic than the way it is portrayed in mainstream media. Now that Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational as well as medical use, both states are being viewed as possible models for the future. So far, in its first year, Colorado’s policies on marijuana have resulted in lower crime, which presents the arguments from marijuana supporters in a positive light.
If the trend continues toward decriminalizing marijuana, there will likely be more media that promotes its use as a medicine and for other uses. The popularity of marijuana will likely grow, and as it does, people will become more aware of its history, why it was made illegal and how it helps in many different medical situations. The result will likely be that marijuana will have less mystique in our culture and that there will be less demonization of it for superficial reasons.
Ray Boroumand is the Office Manager of 4th Street Medical, a leading Orange County medical marijuana evaluation clinic. An advocate for medical marijuana, Ray believes in making the process as simple and easy for patients as possible through quick and convenient verification. At 4th Street Medical, he stresses convenience, affordability and transparency 100% of the time.