Following a steady rise over the course of the past two decades, new Pew Research polling released earlier this week showed that an all-time high 62% of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana.
Similar research from 2017 reveals just a 1% jump from last year to now, but support has now literally doubled from the 31% of the nation that was in favor of legalizing weed in 2000.
That number is backed by ongoing state-level research that shows a similar 60%ish support for medical marijuana or adult recreational use legalization, even in ultra-conservative states like Utah and Texas.
So who are these 40% of Americans who seem to oppose cannabis reform, regardless of what part of the country they live in?
Well, this week’s Pew Research report dives into that as well and you quickly see a pattern forming.
In their nationwide polling Pew reports that 69% of self-identified Democrats support federal cannabis legalization, while just 45% of Republicans do.
When broken down by age, basically the older the person being polled was, the less likely it was that they would support legalization efforts. The poll classifies anyone born between 1981-1997 as a “Millennial”, and their support for cannabis spiked this year at 74%. Compare this to the “Silent Generation” – those born between the Great Depression through the end of World War II – who bottom the charts out with just 39% of them saying they would support legal weed nationwide.
So, the data clearly shows, the 40% are mostly made up of a bunch of rapidly aging Republicans who just won’t budge on reefer.
The good news is, time is not on their side.
The bad news is, the “Silent Generation” ain’t going out quietly.
Just look at the recent battle over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Against some pretty harsh evidence, most of which was banned from the hearings, public support in favor of the controversial judge remained at around 40%, even after more credible allegations surfaced.
How much do you want to bet that a good chunk of that 40% was old Republican men?
A 2017 Gallup Poll showed that 62% of Americans felt that Trump’s government is doing too little to protect our environment. There’s that steadfast 38%, ready to stand against…well… clean air and water apparently.
The president himself, a bumbling fool who degrades our world standing daily, may have the lowest average approval rating of all time, but it still hovers at 39% over the course of his tumultuous term.
And the list goes on. You can search for public support polling reports on virtually any social issue and find that roughly 60% of the country favors progress and equality, and 30-40% oppose it – whatever “it” happens to be.
The problem is that although they perpetually find themselves in the minority category on nearly all of these social issues, Republican voters tend to turn out in droves on election days, regardless of how embarrassing their side of the ballot is. Once there, they religiously vote down the party line, careless of how it will directly affect society’s best interests.
The result is Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court, Flint Michigan still pumping poison tap water, Trump still toilet-tweeting, and weed still a Schedule I drug and highly illegal at the federal level.
There are a lot of headlines these days about President Trump potentially making some big announcement on marijuana “soon”.
This November, however, just know that the vast majority of Republican voters oppose cannabis legalization, and their candidates will continue to follow that lead if elected to office.
All elections are important, and issues ranging from the federal, to the state, to your local level deserve your attention and your ultimate voting decision.
Looking back at the earliest data from Pew Research, just 12% of Americans supported federal cannabis legalization in 1969! We have come so far, but as we’ve learned, all of this polling is worthless if the supposed 60%+ don’t get out on election day and make an informed vote.