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As American Attitudes Become More Liberal, Even Republicans Favor Pot Legalization

A slight majority of Republicans for the first time joined lopsided majorities of Democrats and independents to support legal cannabis.

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A major turning point has occurred in the marijuana legalization movement: Now, a majority of Republicans support it, too.

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That’s the findings of a new Gallup poll. For the first time in the almost 50 years the organization has asked about marijuana legalization, 51 percent of Republicans surveyed said they support it. Overall, about two-thirds of Americans are in favor of making marijuana legal, which is also a record for a Gallup poll.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of an administration in the White House that continues to oppose legal marijuana – in words, if not deeds.

Related: Why Your Cannabis Business Is Failing, and How You Can Fix It

Most support ever

Overall, the Gallup poll found that 64 percent of those surveyed favored legalizing marijuana. That’s the highest ever in the survey, beating out the 60 percent who favored legalization in 2016.

Broken out by political affiliation, 72 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents favor legalization. The 51 percent of Republicans who favor legalization marks the first time ever that self-identifying Republicans favored making pot legal.

The numbers are notable, particularly when put into historical context. Gallup first asked “Do you think the use of marijuana should be legal, or not” back in 1969. In that first survey, only 12 percent favored legalization.

The numbers for support increased in the 1970s but remained flat through the 1980s and 1990s. Support has doubled since 2001, and a majority have favored legalization since the 2013 survey. Not coincidentally, this century more than half the U.S. states have made medical marijuana legal while eight states and the District of Columbia have done so for recreational marijuana.

Gallup notes that support for marijuana legalization has somewhat mirrored that for same-sex marriages, two topics not often used together in that context. But Gallup mentioned the correlation as part of an overall change in American attitudes in the 21st century.

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A turn to the left.

Earlier this year, Gallup released a report that found Americans now express far more liberal views on many social issues than they did last century. For example, 91 percent now find birth control “morally OK.” That mirrors survey results across a number of issues. The following are the percentage of survey respondents in recent Gallup polls who found different issues “morally acceptable”:

  • Divorce (73 percent)
  • Sex between an unmarried man and woman (69 percent)
  • Gambling (65 percent)
  • Gay or lesbian relations (63 percent)
  • Having a baby outside marriage (62 percent)
  • Human embryo stem cell research (61 percent)

For younger Americans, these numbers probably do not seem that surprising. For older Americans who can remember extremely divisive debate on all of the above, they are borderline shocking.

Of 19 such issues included in recent surveys, 13 of them showed a more liberal view than in the past. Gallup reported that “over time, no issues show movement toward conservative positions.”

At the same time, support for the death penalty (58 percent) and medical testing on animals (51 percent) are at an all-time low.

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