Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Poll: Nationwide marijuana legalization inevitable
First Published Apr 02 2014 09:13 am • Last Updated Apr 02 2014 09:13 am

Denver • Nationwide marijuana legalization seems inevitable to three-fourths of Americans, whether they support it or not, according to a new poll out Wednesday.

The Pew Research Center survey on the nation’s shifting attitudes about drug policy also showed increased support for moving away from mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The telephone survey found that 75 percent of respondents — including majorities of both supporters and opponents of legal marijuana— think that the sale and use of pot eventually will be legal nationwide. It was the first time that question had been asked.

Some 39 percent of respondents said pot should be legal for personal adult use. Forty-four percent of those surveyed said it should be legal only for medicinal use. Just 16 percent said it should not be legal at all.

The responses come as two states have legalized recreational marijuana, with more than 20 states and Washington D.C. allowing some medical use of the drug.

"It’s just a matter of time before it’s in more states," said Steve Pratley of Denver, a 51-year-old pipefitter who voted for legalization in Colorado in 2012.

Pratley, who did not participate in the Pew survey, agreed with 76 percent of respondents who said people who use small amounts of marijuana shouldn’t go to jail.

"If marijuana isn’t legalized, it fills up the jails, and that’s just stupid," Pratley said.

Legalization opponents, however, drew a distinction between making pot legal for all and thinking that pot users belong in jail.

"It’s an illegal drug, period. I don’t see it spreading," said Laura Sanchez, a 55-year-old retiree in Denver who voted against legalization. She agreed that pot smokers don’t belong in jail, but she disagreed with legalization.


story continues below
story continues below

"I’ve seen no proof that it’s good for anybody," said Sanchez, who also did not participate in the survey.

The poll suggested that despite shifting attitudes on legalization, the public remains concerned about drug abuse, with 32 percent of those surveyed calling it a crisis and 55 percent of respondents viewing it as a serious national problem.

And a narrow majority, 54 percent, said that marijuana legalization would lead to more underage people trying it.

As for mandatory minimum sentences, public attitudes have been shifting for years.

In 2001, the survey was about evenly divided on whether it was a good thing or bad thing for states to move away from mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders. In 2014, poll respondents favored the move by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, or 63 percent to 32 percent. The other 5 percent either didn’t respond or said they didn’t know.

Public officials are well aware of the public’s shifting attitudes on drug penalties.

Just last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified in support of proposed sentence reductions for some non-violent drug traffickers in an effort to reserve the "the harshest penalties for the most serious drug offenders."

"Certain types of cases result in too many Americans going to prison for too long, and at times for no truly good public safety reason," Holder said last month at the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Drug legalization activists said the Pew results come as no surprise.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.