Americans Are Changing Their Minds About Pot Legalization

More Americans support marijuana legalization and expect it to continue to sweep the nation.
(Photo: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)
Apr 17, 2015· 0 MIN READ
Rebecca McCray is a staff writer covering social justice. She is based in New York.

A new Pew Research Center poll has found that 53 percent of Americans believe marijuana use should be legalized. Twenty-one percent of Americans surveyed by Pew have changed their minds about marijuana and no longer oppose legalization. Meanwhile, a new poll from Bloomberg Politics shows that 58 percent of Americans expect pot to be legalized in all 50 states within the next two decades. Marijuana is already legal in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon.

These changing attitudes suggest the nationwide movement spurred by marijuana legalization advocates is succeeding. In California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is chairing a task force on marijuana legalization in an effort to examine what went wrong in the state’s last attempt, Proposition 19, and how to strengthen the upcoming 2016 ballot initiative. “This is not...a flippant debate about stoners and potheads. This is serious stuff, and I don’t want to be part of the status quo,” Newsom told reporters earlier this year. Newsom said his support for marijuana legalization stems from concerns about how black and Latino youth are disproportionately impacted by the current marijuana laws.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a nonpartisan anti-prohibition organization, which collected signatures to put legalization on the ballot in Colorado and Alaska, is now working on similar measures in Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, and Arizona for 2016. In March, Nevada lawmakers declined to contest legalization’s place on the ballot, so it will officially be up for consideration next year. The movement just keeps growing: The group has its eye on Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont for 2017.