There’s Only One Demographic That Still Thinks Marijuana Should Be Illegal


With the election rapidly approaching, and a great deal at stake for marijuana legalization supporters, it should come as music to their ears that attitudes are continuing to shift in their favor. As has been reported previously – and for several ongoing years now – the sentiment around marijuana is changing very quickly among Americans. Whereas only a decade or so ago legalization was but a pipe dream, we have a handful of states in which adults can literally walk into a storefront and purchase cannabis.

After the dust settles this November, we may see five additional states added to that list. Needless to say, attitudes have taken a big turn in a small amount of time.

There are still large numbers of people staunchly opposed to the concept of legalization. Though states like Washington and Colorado have benefitted greatly from ending cannabis prohibition – just take a look at the tax revenues and the number of jobs that have been created in the past few years – a lot of people are still expressing concern. However, even the doubters ranks have been eroding as of late. Groups that are traditionally against legalization – Republicans, mostly – are coming around.

And according to a new public poll from Pew Research, public support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high. But there is one group of people who are still holding out: Older conservatives.

The holdouts: Silent Generation conservatives

From that Pew Research brief, we can see via the chart that the overall split regarding attitudes toward legalization is sitting around 57% for, and 37% against. But when you dig into the data a bit and break it down by demographic, there are only two sets that still have majorities who say the use of cannabis should be illegal.

In terms of generation or age, its the Silent Generation. Roughly 59% of these people born between the years of 1925 and 1945 have evidently not found arguments in favor of legalization to be persuasive.

The second group is Conservative Republicans, which disapprove of legalization by 62% to 33%. Whats interesting here, however, is that other subsets of Republicans, by Pews measurements, show support for legalization by a 2:1 margin. Its the conservative wing that is tilting the overall Republican category.

Altogether, though, we can see that older, Silent Generation conservatives are the only remaining group that is against legalization.

Republicans are internally divided over marijuana legalization. By a wide margin (63% to 35%), moderate and liberal Republicans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. By contrast, 62% of conservative Republicans oppose legalizing marijuana use, while just 33% favor it, Pews brief says.

That schism among Republicans really seems to be the game-changer at this point, as Democrats are more or less on the same page with each other. The differences among Democrats are more modest. Liberal Democrats are 23 percentage points more likely than conservative and moderate Democrats to favor legalization (78% vs. 55%), Pew says.

Mounting support for marijuana

With conservative Republicans still holding fast against the changing tide, just about everyone else is changing their minds regarding legalization. There are likely many reasons for that, but its hard to ignore the fact that every doomsday scenario floated by those against legalization, prior to Colorado and Washington ending prohibition, failed to materialize.

Heres Pews most recent chart with overall opinions, dating back to 1969:

This also includes generational differences, as seen above. Clearly, millennials are leading the charge, followed by Generation X and the baby boomers. Yet, the Silent Generation still lags way behind.

With several states having marijuana on the ballot in some form or another this November, this poll may give us an indication as to which way voters are going to swing. Of course, its really impossible to know for sure (just look at the Brexit vote for an example), but a year from now, we may have legal marijuana in nine states, rather than just four.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: There’s Only One Demographic That Still Thinks Marijuana Should Be Illegal
Author: Sam Becker
Contact: The Cheat Sheet
Photo Credit: Robyn Beck
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