It has been fascinating to watch the rapid political and economic changes favoring the legalization of marijuana, including the growth of a market worth billions in sales and taxes. The most recent polling by Associated Press and the University of Chicago has found a record-high percentage of Americans — 61 percent.
Those answering yes to the following question jumped from 58 to 61 percent since just last October:
“Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?”
There is more variation on the specifics of legalization. Some 24 percent of legalization supporters said marijuana should be made available “only with a medical prescription.” Another 43 percent said there should be “restrictions on purchase amounts.” However, one-third of legalization supporters said there should be “no restrictions” on purchase amounts.
What was particularly interesting was that almost half (47 percent) of Republicans favored legalization despite the generally opposed view of GOP presidential candidates. The percentage is higher for Democrats (70 percent support) and independents (65 percent).
Not surprisingly there is also a significant difference based on age. Eighty-two percent of 18-to-29 year olds support legalization while only 44 percent favor legalizations who are above the age of 60. Those are the two biggest groups respectively for Sanders (18 to 29) and Clinton (above 60).
The Democrats are already responding to this shift. The question will be how far Clinton is willing to go and how Republican leaders are likely to change. One obvious response is to return to the GOP position in favor of state’s rights (a position honored often in the breach). The GOP could thread the political needle by simply supporting the right of states to make this decision and agree to decriminalize on a federal level. However, the roughly half of Republicans supporting legalization appear to be largely unrepresented in the views of most GOP candidates.
Source: Washington Post