Nationally, support for the legalization of marijuana is at an all-time high, with a majority of voters from both sides of the aisle agreeing that the Federal government should step aside. In fact, six in ten Americans now favor legalizing marijuana nationwide.
“About six-in-ten Americans (61 percent) say the use of marijuana should be legalized, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade,” Pew researchers write in their findings. “The survey, conducted in October , finds that the share of U.S. adults who support marijuana legalization is little changed from about a year ago – when 57 percent favored it – but it is nearly double what it was in 2000 (31 percent).”
The poll did not distinguish between medical and recreational cannabis use, but simply asked, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?”
“There are wide generational and partisan differences in views of marijuana legalization,” Pew researchers say. “Majorities of Millennials (70 percent), Gen Xers (66 percent), and Baby Boomers (56 percent) say the use of marijuana should be legal. Only among the Silent Generation [a demographic term describing people born between the mid-1920s and the early-to-mid 1940s] does a greater share oppose (58 percent) than favor (35 percent) marijuana legalization.”
Unsurprisingly, Democrats are significantly more likely to favor cannabis reform, but a separate October 2017 Gallup poll found that 51 percent of Republicans favor legalizing marijuana. Younger Republicans are strongly in favor.
“Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, those younger than 40 favor legalizing marijuana use, 62 percent to 38 percent,” according to the Pew poll. “Republicans ages 40 to 64 are divided (48 percent say it should be legal, 49 percent illegal), while those 65 and older oppose marijuana legalization by more than two-to-one (67 percent to 30 percent).”
That age gap also extends to Democrats’ demographic results, according to the Pew assessment.
“Sizable majorities of Democrats and Democratic leaners younger than 40 (79 percent) and 40 to 64 (70 percent) favor marijuana legalization. Older Democrats – those 65 and older – are more divided (50 percent favor legalization, 42 percent oppose it).”
American voters will not be voting on the issue any time soon, or maybe ever. Although there have been, are currently, and probably will be efforts by Federal lawmakers to legalize cannabis, almost no one believes that the Federal government will legalize cannabis anytime soon. At best, activists might hope for some protections in states where cannabis is legal.
On a state level, more and more states are showing majority support for legalization. Here are three such states, all with substantial populations, which have passed the 50 percent support mark and may see a legalization bill materialize in the coming months or years.
Florida Misses The 2018 Ballot
A new survey of 619 registered voters conducted by the University of North Florida showed that 62 percent of Florida’s registered voters are in favor regulating marijuana like alcohol, while 45 percent say they would "strongly support" legalization. Only 27 percent were opposed, and three percent were undecided.
Unfortunately, an attempt to gather the 766,000 valid signatures required to get a recreational-marijuana initiative on November's ballot fell well short of their goal before the February 1 deadline.
New Yorkers Support Legalization
A Siena College poll of registered New York voters showed 56 percent support legalizing recreational marijuana. According to auburnpub.com, two-thirds of Democrats and 57 percent of independents are supportive, while 57 percent of Republicans oppose the idea. Sixty percent of voters in New York City are in favor. Voters 55 and older are closely divided. And three-quarters of voters under 35 support legalization.
Medical marijuana is currently legal but strictly regulated In New York state. Governor Cuomo recently announced plans for a Department of Health study which he claimed would focus on the economic and health impacts of recreational marijuana legalization.
Michigan’s 2018 election
Michigan will vote on a recreational marijuana measure during this November’s ballot, and more than half of the state’s residents are onboard.
Recently, Detroit News and WDIV Local 4 commissioned a survey which revealed that nearly 57 percent of voters are in favor of recreational legalization. Support in the state, that support is divided along party lines. Democrats overwhelmingly support legalization at 71.5 percent while only 43.5 of Republicans are in favor of adult use. Voters identifying as Independent are nearly split on the issue.
This past May a statewide poll of 600 Michigan voters by Marketing Resource Group found that 58 percent support legalizing adult-use weed, while only 36 percent who opposed it. Just four years ago those numbers were 55 percent opposed and 41 percent in favor of recreational legalization.
A valiant attempt to put a recreational-weed initiative on the 2016 ballot was dashed when a number of signatures on the petition were found to be invalid.
In 2008, the state established a medical marijuana program. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) allowed patients with qualifying conditions to use marijuana for treatment.
Michigan has one of the most promising markets in the cannabis industry. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, Michigan has nearly 220,000 patients in their medical marijuana patient registry.
Second only to California, Michigan has one of highest patient counts in the country and represents 2.2 percent of the population which is approximately 9.9 million. Taking into consideration all states with legalized medical marijuana, Michigan has the second highest number of registered patients but ranks seventh in total population.
November 2018 Ballot Initiative
Pro-pot organizations like the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and the ACLU formed the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol to legalize adult use marijuana in the state.
In the fall of 2017, the Coalition officially filed language to include adult use marijuana on the November 2018 ballot. To be added to the ballot the initiative will also need to submit a petition with 252,523 signatures.
The proposed law would not only legalize marijuana for adult use, but it would also establish a system where cannabis is regulated and taxed like alcohol. It would also limit the legal possession amount to 2.5 ounces, and residents would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants for personal use.
Should the initiative make it on the ballot and citizens vote in favor of the law, Michigan would follow states like California and Colorado in legalizing marijuana for recreational use.