US support for marijuana legalisation reaches all-time high

Emily Shugerman
Sixty-one per cent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal: AP Photo/Richard Vogel

In today’s fractured political climate, there is one issue on which it appears Americans of all political parties can agree: legalising marijuana.

Sixty-one per cent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, according to a recent poll from CBS. That’s a record for the poll, which has tracked sentiment on the issue since 1979.

Support for marijuana legalisation has increased steadily since 2013, crossing to majority support in 2014. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have legalised marijuana since 2012. Two more states permit marijuana usage in a medical context.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws, even in those states where it is legal. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hinted at harsher prosecutions for marijuana violations in February.

But according to the CBS poll, that’s an unpopular position with Democrats and Republicans alike. Sixty-three per cent of Republicans and 76 per cent of Democrats oppose actions by the federal government to stop marijuana use in states where it is legal.

Legalisation also appears to be an economic hit. Colorado marked $1bn billion in legal marijuana sales in 2016, just 10 months after it legalised the drug. Experts predict the market could hit $21bn in sales by 2020 – bringing in millions in taxes for state governments, too.

On the whole, Americans seem to have relaxed their stance on marijuana use: A majority say they view the substance as safer than alcohol, and half even admit to trying it themselves.

"Despite broad political division in the country, cannabis seems to be the one factor that has drawn universal support," John Kagia of New Frontier Data told CNN.