Surveys tend to speak volumes when it comes to America’s opinion on marijuana. Over the last few years, dozens of surveys have released studies and numbers to prove whether marijuana should be legal or not. The General Social Survey is considered the “gold standard” of surveys. For the first time in its history, a significant change has occurred and it all has to do with marijuana. According to an article in The Tampa Bay Times, for the first time, the General Social Survey is showing a that a majority of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis.
Interviews for the survey were done between March and October of last year, “when the legal marijuana markets in Colorado and Washington were ramping up.” Researchers asked close to 2,000 people: “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?”
Fifty-two percent said pot should be legalized, 42 percent opposed it, and another 7 percent were undecided. Support was up 9 percentage points from 2012, which was the last time the survey was conducted.
According to the article, the survey is an important one because its “marijuana numbers trace the trajectory of U.S. drug policy over the past 40 years. In 1974, a year after the Shafer Commission recommended removing marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, public support for full legalization stood at 19 percent. Support rose through the 1970s, reaching nearly 30 percent in 1978, only to plummet during the Reagan years, ‘Just Say No’ and the advent of the drug war.”
The numbers rose through the 1990s as states started adopting medical marijuana laws. As recently as 2006, support stood only at 32 percent. In fewer than 10 years since then, support has jumped 20 percentage points. Experts point out that the change is similar to the “dramatic shift in public opinion on gay marriage over the same period.”
The article ends by stating that the numbers in the latest General Social Survey show that at “the national level, support for legal marijuana remains robust — and doesn’t show signs of wavering any time soon.”