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Everyone but Republicans Favors Legalizing Marijuana Nationally

Recent polling shows majorities of nearly every demographic in the U.S. favors changing federal law regarding marijuana.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found a big division among Americans about legalizing marijuana at the federal level.

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A large majority favored the idea. Asked if marijuana “should be made legal in the U.S.”, 59 percent said “yes” while 36 percent said “no.”

Related: Legal Marijuana a 'Powerful Force' in Oregon Economy

However, the poll found a real dividing line when it came to two groups:

  • 61 percent of Republicans oppose legalization at the federal level
  • 51 percent of those over the age of 65 also oppose federal legalization

Those two represent the only groups who oppose legalization of marijuana by the federal government. Quinnipiac broke down the respondents into different groups. Here are some of them, as well as the percentage who favor legalization.

  • Democrats – 72 percent
  • Independents – 58 percent
  • Men – 65 percent
  • Women – 54 percent
  • Ages 18 to 34 – 76 percent
  • Ages 35 to 49 – 71 percent
  • Ages 50 to 64 – 53 percent

Clearly, marijuana is yet another issue that strongly divides people along political lines and, at least in the case of the oldest Americans, by age.

Related: Researchers Believe Legal Marijuana Could Hurt Beer Sales

Why it matters.

The lack of legalization at the federal level has led to all kinds of issues for entrepreneurs and investors looking to get into the legal cannabis business, both medical and recreational.

For one, the hodgepodge of state laws -- and even different municipal laws within each state -- has led to uncertainty about who can do what and where. That ranges from where you can grow, distribute and sell at the retail level. Business leaders also face different licenses and fees structures depending on where they do business.

Perhaps most importantly for businesses, the prohibition against marijuana at the federal level has kept large banks from offering services of any kind to marijuana-related businesses.

Many are looking to Canada as an example of a nation taking careful steps toward national legalization of marijuana. The government continues to move forward with national legalization even though a recent poll finds the country split on the issue.

Government leaders there say they will move slowly on national legalization, taking time to coordinate with governments across the country to establish a universal set of regulations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said legislation that legalizes marijuana at the national level should be ready to introduce to Parliament by summer.

No division on federal action.

The Quinnipiac poll initially received a lot of attention because it found that people across all age and political groups voice opposition to the federal government interfering in states where voters made either medical or recreational marijuana legal.

This question became relevant in the wake of comments by Sean Spicer, spokesman for President Donald Trump, made to reporters. He told them “I do believe” that people will see “greater enforcement” of federal law in regards to marijuana.

While approved in 28 states for medical use and eight for recreational use, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

Of the 1,323 surveyed, 71 percent said they oppose federal action against those states, while 23 percent supported it.

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