This must be green week. On Monday President Obama called off Bush-fearing federal agents who had their guns trained on medical marijuana dispensaries in California and 13 other states where medicinal pot is legal. A county superior court judge ruled the city's moratorium on new dispensaries is illegal. And now a Gallup poll has found more Americans since the 1970s — when it first started asking respondents for their opinions on the matter — support the all-out legalization of marijuana.
The organization's research found that 44 percent of Americans support legalizing and taxing the drug, while 54 percent want to keep it as an outlaw substance. In 2003 Gallup found that 75 percent of Americans support allowing doctors to prescribe the drug to relieve pain and suffering in patients.
The latest Gallup poll found that support for legalization was highest among self-proclaimed liberals (78 percent were in favor); conservatives were almost opposite (72 percent were opposed). If the Western United States were a country, pot would be fully legal here: 53 percent of residents here favor it. Fifty percent of those under 50 support legitimizing marijuana, and 45 percent of those aged 50 to 64 are in favor too. Those over 64 are Reefer Madness holdouts, lending only 28 percent support for legalization.
Interestingly, in the arch-liberal year of 1970, after reactionary forces, smarting from hippies in the streets and drug-use gone wild, had put Richard Nixon in the White House, support for legal marijuana was at its lowest: 12 percent. It's gone up each year since then. Even in 1979, when drug use, particularly weed smoking, was at its peak among Spicoli-era high schoolers, support for legalization (around 25 percent) didn't touch this week's numbers.
In the evolution of American mores, particularly since the 1970s, the nation, in fact, has grown more strict in many ways. Times Square is no longer a center of sin, it's not acceptable to molest 13-year-olds (see the Roman Polanski saga), spanking children is out, child-safety seats are in, drunk-driving enforcement and penalties are more stringent than ever, and science has often called bullshit on the '60s-era, pie-in-the-sky promise of psychedelics and other drugs. And yet the idea of marijuana as harmless at worst and healthy at best has gained unprecedented ground, at least in blue state America.
Gallup's report states, “Most of the expansion in support for legalizing marijuana since Gallup
last measured this in 2005 is seen among women, younger Americans,
Democrats, moderates, and liberals. By comparison, there has been
little change in the views of men, seniors, Republicans, independents,