More than two-thirds of Americans are in favor of legalizing small amounts of cannabis for personal use, according to the results of a poll released on Monday. The new Monmouth University poll also showed broad support for President Joseph Biden’s recent executive order to pardon federal convictions for low-level marijuana possession and found that most Americans believe that cannabis is safer than alcohol.
“Polling from a variety of sources shows that support for marijuana legalization has been increasing consistently over the past twenty years,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll found that overall, 68% of respondents support legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Cannabis legalization was supported by 76% of Democrats, 73% of independent voters and 52% of Republicans. Young people showed the strongest support for legalizing marijuana, with 87% of those under 35 years old, while just over a majority (53%) of those aged 55 and older support legalization.
Two-Thirds Support Biden’s Pardons
The Monmouth poll also showed strong support for Biden’s announcement on October 6 that he would pardon federal convictions for simple marijuana possession, with 69% of all respondents saying that they backed the president’s move.
“Biden’s action is in line with how the vast majority of Americans feel about this issue,” Murray said.
However, most were unsure about the scope of the pardons. An analysis by The New York Times determined that the pardons will affect about 6,500 people who were convicted of marijuana possession under federal law and thousands more in the District of Columbia. A quarter (25%) thought the number of convictions pardoned was less than 1,000, while a fifth (21%) thought the total was more than 10,000. One-fourth (26%) said the number was in the actual range of 1,000 to 10,000 convictions, while 29% declined to estimate.
More than half of Americans (54%) said that legalizing marijuana will have no impact on the number of crimes related to other drugs. A quarter (25%) said they believed legalizing marijuana would increase the number of other drug crimes, while 16% said that other drug crimes would decrease as a result of cannabis legalization.
Majority Believes Alcohol Is More Dangerous Than Weed
Most respondents (54%) said that they believed alcohol is more dangerous than weed, while only 7% said marijuana is more dangerous and 38% said they thought the two substances are equally dangerous. A plurality of respondents (45%) also thought pot is safer than tobacco. Only 13% said marijuana was more dangerous than tobacco and 38% said they were equally dangerous.
More than half (54%) of American adults said that they had tried marijuana, including 54% of Democrats, 51% of Republicans and 56% of independents. Those who had tried marijuana were more supportive of legalization, with 87% of those with personal experience with the plant favoring legalization and less than half (47%) of those who have never tried pot in favor of legalizing small amounts of cannabis.
Brian Vicente, founding partner of the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, believes that the strong support for marijuana legalization revealed by the new poll is likely to be reflected in next month’s midterm elections, when five states will be voting to legalize adult-use cannabis.
“This poll is a milestone in cannabis policy, with a stunning 68% of Americans now supporting legalization. Importantly, we now have a majority of both major political parties and a broad swath of Americans regardless of age now supporting reform,” Vicente wrote in an email to High Times.
“This research, combined with the overwhelmingly positive response to President Biden’s recent actions to pardon marijuana convictions is creating the most energized climate around cannabis reform that our country has seen in a decade,” he added. “This climate is likely to contribute to another 4 or 5 states legalizing cannabis on November 8th. All these factors will provide a boost to cannabis reformers in DC, which makes significant federal reform a real possibility this year.”
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from October 13 to 17, 2022 with 808 adults in the United States. The results have a margin of error of +/- 5.2 percentage points for the full sample.