On the heels of Ohio’s big cannabis win on election night, Gallup announced a record 70% of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana. 

The number has been climbing for years. In the mid-1990s when Prop 215 passed, less than 30% of Americans were on board with legalization. But once the ball started rolling, it was off to the races. Support would break 30% in 2000. Then as more and more medical states came online in the 2000s, eventually support would hit half of Americans in 2011. The next big catalyst for support was the first couple states to legalize. 

With the exception of a 2% dip in 2017, more Americans have supported cannabis legalization every year since Colorado and Washington decided to be the canaries in the coal mine. But the sky has not fallen, and now a little less than a decade later, we’ve hit 70%!

The nation’s oldest marijuana reform organization, NORML, was thrilled with the news. 

There’s no ‘buyer’s remorse’ among the public when it comes to legalizing cannabis,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “As more states have adopted legalization, public support for this policy has risen dramatically. That’s because these policies are largely working as intended, and because voters prefer legalization and regulation over the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

NORML also honed in on how diverse this sentiment in favor of legalization was across all parties. But the biggest support was from self-identified liberals at 91%. Democrats weren’t far behind with 87% coming out in support of reform. 

“Public support for legalizing and regulating cannabis is mainstream and bipartisan,” Armentano said. “At a time when many political issues remain acutely polarized, legalizing marijuana remains one of the few policy reforms that a majority of voters on the right and on the left agree upon. It borders on political malpractice for elected officials, and for Republican lawmakers especially, to sit on the sidelines at a time when more Americans than ever are demanding action.”

As more and more data continues to come out that trends the way Gallup has over the years, federal legalization is seeming more realistic every day. Outgoing Cannabis Caucus co-chair Earl Blumenauer looks to be hoping to vote on something before he leaves office after this term. Bluemenaur has worked on the issue since 1973 and celebrated 50 years dedicated to the cause this year. 

Cannabis reform is inevitable, but very hard work. From coast to coast, people from all political stripes have realized the importance of legalizing marijuana and ending the failed war on drugs. The people overcame opposition from Ohio Republican state legislators to secure landmark legislation,” Blumenauer said. “Now our attention is trained on next steps.”

Those next steps are pulling the trigger on viable legislation.  

“The sooner the federal government becomes a partner in the path forward, the safer and better off our small businesses, veterans and communities will be,” Blumenauer said. 

With almost a quarter million cannabis arrests across America last year, just over 227,000 according to the FBI’s data, there is plenty of reason to keep pushing hard. Every time another state legalized cannabis, like Ohio this week, that number is whittled down a bit further. For example, Ohio contributed 7,000 arrests to that 227,000 across America last year. 

The most curious development will be whatever comes out of the Senate early next year. Whatever can pass there will have a good shot at the House. From there it would eventually make it to what would likely be its most challenging step, the pen of President Joe Biden. Biden has not proven an ally of cannabis at any point in his career. 

Advocated will continue to keep an eye on the situation and hope for further progress as we get closer to the new year.

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