Here in the Bay Area, we like our pot. OK, so you knew that. Well, it’s official.
Actually, the entire state has loosened up regarding the legalization of marijuana. A new Field Poll report (embedded at the end of this post) illustrates a “huge reversal of public sentiment” toward marijuana over recent decades, from being staunchly opposed to generally accepting.
The new report finds 55 percent of California voters favor legalization, a gigantic jump from the puny 13 percent who favored it in a 1969 poll. (Remember 1969?) Back then, 75 percent of those surveyed wanted either strict enforcement of marijuana laws against its use or to pass even tougher laws. Just 31 percent say that today.
The new Field Poll also finds a 56 percent majority favoring the adoption of a proposed statewide initiative to legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana in California (39 percent are against it; 5 percent undecided). This is where the Bay Area asserts itself:
There are big differences in voter preferences toward the proposed initiative across subgroups of the registered voter population. The strongest levels of support for the proposed initiative come from voters registered as Democrats or no party preference, liberals, voters under age 50, singles, white non-Hispanics, voters living in the state’s coastal counties and especially those living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and college graduates.
In fact, the Field Poll found that 70 percent of those surveyed in the Bay Area favor the proposed marijuana initiative while 23 percent oppose it. Who’s against it? Here’s the Field Poll summary again:
Opposition to the initiative exceeds support among four major voting blocs: Republicans, conservatives, Latinos, and voters with no more than a high school education. In addition, seniors age 65 or older and voters in the state’s inland counties are about evenly divided on the issue.
Of course, one could say that all the old naysayers have died off or are about to, leaving stoner Boomers and more youthful 420 adherents to flex their voting muscles. A recent Gallup Poll on what Americans favor (or not) found that “a sizable percentage of Americans (38 percent) this year admitted to having tried the drug, which may be a contributing factor to greater acceptance.”
And: “Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans’ tolerance for marijuana legalization.” The Gallup summary notes that the increased prevalence of medical marijuana may be contributing to support as well.
Gallup’s nationwide findings on pot mirrored the Field Poll, with 58 percent of those surveyed favoring legalization. Americans weren’t all that positive about a lot of issues raised in the Gallup Poll, so the marijuana number was particularly striking. Business Insider‘s Josh Barro said it “is remarkable because, these days, it’s hard to find much of anything that 58 percent of Americans like. … Legal marijuana isn’t as popular as universal gun background checks (83 percent) or legal sodomy (64 percnet). But it’s more popular than almost everything else.” He goes on to list a few:
More Americans want to legalize marijuana than think President Obama is doing a good job (44 percent), want to keep or expand Obamacare (38 percent), favored attacking Syria (36 percent), support a 20-cent gas tax increase to pay for infrastructure (29 percent), or like the Republican Party (28 percent).
And legal marijuana has more than five times as many supporters as Congress does (11 percent).