National poll of voters finds 56% support for legalization
By Phil Smith, stopthedrugwar.org
A Rasmussen poll of likely voters released May 22, 2012 found support for legalizing and regulating marijuana at 56% nationwide, a significant increase over a March Rasmussen poll and in line with other recent polls that show legalization gaining majority support and trending upward.
The surge comes ahead of elections in November that will see votes in at least two states, Colorado and Washington, on marijuana legalization initiatives. Efforts are still underway to get on the ballot in four other states — Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, and Oregon. The poll did not break down support by state.
Legalization garnered majority support among both sexes and across age groups, with significant differences. While 61% of men supported “legalizing marijuana and treating it like alcohol or cigarettes,” only 52% of women did, reflecting a gender gap seen in other polls. And while even seniors came in with 50% support, only 49% of respondents with minor children supported legalization.
Support in that demographic jumped, however, when pollsters asked if they would favor legalization “if no one under 18 could buy it, it was banned in public, and there were strict penalties for driving under the influence.” Under those conditions, support among parents jumped to 58% and support among Republicans increased to 52%, bumping up overall support for legalization by one point, to 57%.
The poll also asked whether or not it should be a crime “for someone to smoke marijuana” in private. Only 32% agreed that private pot-smoking should remain a crime, while 68% disagreed.
The same poll asked whether US drug consumption is a major cause of drug violence in Mexico and Central America, with 62% agreeing that it is. More surprisingly, 47% said they agreed with legalizing marijuana and cocaine if it would reduce the violence along the Mexican border. But in another question in the poll, only 11% agreed with legalizing and regulating cocaine.
The poll sampled 1,000 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3%.