New Poll Shows Greatest Ever Support for Legalizing Marijuana

Press Release June 23, 2003
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 212-613-8026 or Shayna Samuels at 646-523-6961

A poll by Zogby International released today found that 41% of Americans agree that “the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: it should regulate it, control it, tax it and only make it illegal for children.” This represents a striking increase from previous nationwide polls on making marijuana legal.

“Over 40% of Americans basically think that marijuana prohibition makes no more sense than alcohol Prohibition, and should be repealed,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Nearly two years ago USA Today ran a front page story with the findings of a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll which found that support for legalizing marijuana was at its highest in 30 years, with 34% in favor, up from 15% in 1972. The jump over two years to 41% is similar to other rapid shifts in public opinion around marijuana decriminalization in Canada, Britain and elsewhere.

The poll released today interviewed 1,204 adults chosen at random nationwide. They were asked to agree or disagree with the following statement: “Some people say the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: it should regulate marijuana, control it, tax it, and only make it illegal for children.” The margin of error is +/- 2.9%.

“No other criminal law on the books in this country is enforced so vigorously, yet backed by such a small majority of Americans,” said Nadelmann. “When two of every five citizens say it’s time to make marijuana legal, the government’s response should be to reduce penalties and re-evaluate the law, yet the federal government is doing just the opposite: blocking the availability of marijuana for medical purposes, prohibiting the production of hemp for industrial purposes, and spending billions of dollars per year on the war on marijuana.”

“U.S. marijuana policy is increasingly out of step with our closest allies and neighbors,” said Nadelmann, pointing to the decriminalization of marijuana in Canada, Switzerland, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy and elsewhere.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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