"Every man got to legalize it, and don't criticize it," Reggae legend Peter Tosh sang in 1976.
While US support for marijuana legalization may never hit the "every man" level -- at least not publicly, that is -- two recent national polls definitely show that it is growing higher and higher.
"Americans are evenly divided over whether marijuana should be legalized in the United States, but most expect it to happen within the next decade," a Rasmussen Reports press release states.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Adults nationally shows 43% believe marijuana should be legalized. But 42% think it should remain an illegal drug. Another 15% are not sure.
These results show a slight shift toward legalization from February of last year.
However, 65% believe it is at least somewhat likely marijuana will be legalized in the United States in the next 10 years. Just 28% do not expect this to happen. Those numbers include 29% who say it is Very Likely pot will be legal in the next 10 years and five percent (5%) who say it is Not At All Likely.
In the latest survey, voters were simply asked whether or not they believed marijuana should be legalized. Voters were more divided on this question than they were in May of last year, when asked whether the drug should be legalized and taxed. At that time, 41% favored the idea of legalizing and taxing marijuana, while 49% were opposed.
Rasmussen's poll last February indicated that 40% said "it should be" legalized, while 46% said "no." As noted above, in May of last year, the numbers changed to 41% pro, with nearly half at 49% against. It might only be a "slight" shift in the latest poll, (and the fine print states, "The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on July 21-22, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.") but for the first time the pro-crowd is ahead.
The poll also notes,
Americans are much more supportive of adults being allowed to smoke marijuana if it is prescribed by a physician. Seventy-five percent (75%) support medicinal marijuana use, while only 14% say patients should not be allowed to smoke doctor-prescribed pot. Support for medical marijuana is even higher than it was in October, when 63% said it should be allowed.
Last week, as Stop The Drug War noted, "A national Angus-Reid poll (pdf link) released Wednesday has found majority support for legalizing marijuana, with 52% of respondents saying they wanted to free the weed. That figure includes 59% of independents and 57% of Democrats, but only 38% of Republicans."
The 52% figure is almost identical to a December Angus-Reid poll that found support at 53%. The difference is within the statistical margin of error. But the Angus-Reid polling finds higher support than most recent polls, which show support nationwide for legalization somewhere in the forties.
Support for legalizing any other drugs was dramatically lower, with only 10% supporting legalizing Ecstasy, and only single-digit support for legalizing heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. The high levels of opposition to drug legalization cut across party lines.
The poll found that while a large majority (64%) believe that "America has a serious drug abuse problem," an equally large majority (65%) believe the war on drugs is a failure. Only 8% said the drug war was working.