Cannabis Legalization: Majority American Support

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Cannabis Legalization: Majority American Support

Two in three Americans support marijuana legalization. That’s the stat you’re going to hear often on the topic of cannabis between now and Election Day 2020 as politicians campaign on the issue and more states put it up for a vote. It comes from Gallup’s widely cited annual survey on the issue which was just updated at the end of October.

Here’s a breakdown of the latest results based on interviews of +1,500 US adults from October 1st-13th, 2019:

  • Overall support: 66% of Americans are in favor of marijuana legalization, the same as last year when it reached a new high since Gallup started asking the question in 1969. Support started gaining the most traction between 2005 and 2018, when it rose by 30 percentage points. .
  • Ideology: Democrats are unsurprisingly most in favor of marijuana legalization at a new high of 76%, up from the prior peak of 75% last year. Sixty-eight percent of independents support legalization, down from 71% last year and closer to the national average. A majority of Republicans (51%) still support marijuana legalization, but it is also down from 53% last year.

    Conversely, less than half (48%) of conservatives want marijuana legalized, while most liberals (82%) think it should be allowed. Moderates side closer with liberals, with 72% supporting legalization.

  • Age: Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are most in favor of marijuana legalization at 80%. Adults under age 30 (18-29) are slightly even more supportive at 81%.

    Gen X (born 1965-1979) and Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) support nears the national average at 63% and 61% respectively. Only 40% of traditionalists (born in 1945 or earlier) are in favor of legalization.
  • Other characteristics: “There are essentially no meaningful differences in support for legal marijuana by gender, education, income, region and urban/suburban/rural residence — between 60% and 70% of subgroup members within those categories favor legalization.”

Here are our two takeaways from the data:

#1 – That support stayed steady from a record high last year is still a positive for the industry even though it did not improve. Although Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis earlier this year, marijuana legalization did not have as big a year as expected. States like New York and New Jersey, for example, failed to also pass retail cannabis bills through their state legislatures. Growth in support for this issue tends to build off momentum on the legalization front, so we expect support to increase further in the coming years as more states fully legalize the drug.

Nevertheless, support for marijuana legalization is still at a 50-year high since Gallup started asking the question. And even though slightly fewer Republicans and Independents are in favor than last year, both still hold majority support.

#2: Many Democratic presidential candidates are in favor of marijuana legalization and have even included it in their campaign platforms. As they try to set themselves apart from President Trump, that Gallup’s survey shows most Americans agree with their view may help their candidacy. Additionally, younger demographic cohorts are notoriously the least likely to vote. With millennials strongly in favor of marijuana legalization, this issue gives the democratic presidential candidate a way to appeal to younger voters and rally them to the polls.

Bottom line: 2020 will be an important year for the US legal marijuana industry. Public marijuana stocks have struggled this year in part due to a lack of further marijuana legalization in the US. The next presidential election will give Americans the chance to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in more US states, increasing the size of the industry’s total addressable market. Big wins for Democrats in the White House and Senate could also speed up national legalization of recreational cannabis, a boon to public marijuana companies.