A solid majority, 56 percent, of registered American voters favor legalizing marijuana and regulating it in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco, according to a new Rasmussen poll. Only 36 percent of the country is opposed to legalizing and regulating cannabis. This represents one of the highest levels of support for marijuana legalization ever in a national poll.
The same poll also found that support for marijuana legalization went up even higher if the poll question made it clear that the sale of cannabis would be very tightly regulated. A full 58 percent of voters would support legalizing marijuana if it was regulated so that it could only be sold in pharmacies. The poll found just 32 percent would still oppose legalizing marijuana even if tightly regulated.
Stressing that legalized marijuana would be well regulated is very important to winning over some undecided voters on this issue. There are many people who don’t use marijuana, but they think prohibition has proven to be an unworkable and costly policy mistake. That doesn’t mean, though, that this group wants no restrictions on marijuana sales, making it as easy to buy as bubble gum. Their basic opinion seems to be that the government should tolerate adult marijuana use, but they still want the government to regulate and discourage its use.
It seems that every few months there is a new national poll confirming that support for legalizing and regulating marijuana is steadily growing. Given the current polling trends, it is not a question of whether states will start legalizing it but when.