A new Pew poll shows a solid majority of Americans — 52% — continues to support re-legalizing marijuana. The poll also shows a major split between older “Reefer Madness”-thinking Republicans and more libertarian-inclined GOP Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996).
Young Americans support re-legalization overwhelmingly, and they are driving this issue. Fully 69% of Millennials surveyed favor making the use of marijuana legal.
The split between young and old is particularly striking in the Republican Party. Fully 63% of GOP Millennials say the use of marijuana should be made legal. That level of support is higher than that found among Republican Generation Xers (47%) and Baby Boomers (38%), and much higher than among GOP members of the Silent Generation (17%). (Pew defines Generation X as those born between 1965-1980; Baby Boomers, 1946-1964; the Silent Generation, 1928-1945.)
As Pew notes: “the age gap is… strikingly similar trend to what we’ve seen within the party when it comes to same-sex marriage.”
Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters are far more favorable across the board. A whopping 77% of Democratic Millennials favoring re-legalization of marijuana use, as well as 66% of Boomers, 61% of Gen Xers and 44% of Democratic members of the Silent Generation.
Accompanying this debate is a remarkable shift in how Americans now view marijuana use as a crime. A large majority of Americans of all political persuasions —76% — think that people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana should not have to serve time in jail.
Adam Dick of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Freedom notes: “These young Republicans are definitely at odds with the majority of Republicans in the United States House of Representatives who continue to vote ‘no’ on rollbacks of the U.S. government’s war on marijuana.
“The trend reflected in the Pew poll results suggests that American politicians will, with each passing year, face electorates increasingly supportive of marijuana legalization — including in Republican primaries. A major shift in marijuana public opinions and policy is ongoing in America. Many politicians will be caught off guard by the major changes yet to come.
“Expect voters to boot out more drug warrior politicians because of those politicians’ increasingly discordant views regarding marijuana. Also watch for politicians to increasingly shift their positions so they publicly support rollbacks in the war on marijuana.”