Vox Populi

The old saying vox populi, vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) has a bit of truth to it. Case in point: marijuana.

Americans are speaking. And what they are saying is that they are okay with legalized marijuana -- and that the time for it is right now.

For example:

70% percent: Seven out of 10 Americans say that marijuana use should be legal, the highest level yet after holding steady at 68% for three years, according to a Gallup Organization poll conducted in October.

Only 12% of Americans supported legalizing marijuana when Gallup first surveyed back in 1969. Support topped 50% in 2013 in the wake of Colorado and Washington becoming the first states to legalize pot’s recreational use.

According to Gallup’s "July Consumption Habits" survey, the percentage saying they personally smoke marijuana has risen 10 points, to 17%, since 2013, and the percentage who have ever tried it has increased 12 points, to 50%.

For the second straight year, Gallup said, majority support for legalization was found among all major subgroups, including by age, political party and ideology. Self-identified conservatives were the last major subgroup to express majority support, reaching 51% in 2022. Support for legal marijuana use is highest among self-identified liberals (91%) and Democrats (87%) and lowest among conservatives (52%) and Republicans (55%). Support is inversely correlated with age, reaching 79% among 18-to-34-year-olds. However, even among the oldest age group, nearly two-thirds (64%) are in favor.

‘Strong, and only looks to grow stronger’: One poll showed that 39% of adults across American use cannabis, not including those who declined to respond. Most of the cannabis users are indulging at least once a month.

“In fact, reported daily usage has typically averaged higher in the last 12 months than in late 2021/early 2022. As of this year, 15% of U.S. adults say they use cannabis daily,” said CivicScience, an opinion research firm founded in 2008 as part of a Carnegie Mellon University incubator project. “For the record, cannabis is incredibly popular among young adults today. Nearly 60% of Gen Z adults (18 to 24) say they use it at least monthly. They’re followed by 55% of young Millennials (25 to 34), who also average as the biggest daily users… The under-35 crowd far outpaces older adults in regular usage, by miles.”

Overall support for the legalization and regulation of marijuana “is strong and only looks to grow stronger,” CivicScience also learned. “As of April, 64% of U.S. adults are in favor of legalization/regulation, the highest back-to-back monthly average seen in all of 2022. Just 25% of the adult population is not in favor of legalizing marijuana.”

Out in the open: “Americans don't just think marijuana use should be legal — they also now think using it out in the open is socially acceptable, and most won't judge others for doing so or feel that they'd be judged themselves,” reported CBS News last year.

In fact, a slight majority of Americans consider using marijuana openly to be socially acceptable, “a shift from when CBS News asked this question two years ago,” the news organization added. “Though this view is shared by a majority of Americans, most Republicans, conservatives, seniors over 65, and most Americans who regularly attend religious services disagree.”

CBS researchers also found that most Americans also said that “they wouldn't think any less of a person for using marijuana — including most who hardly ever or never use marijuana themselves. Similarly, a majority of Americans say that if they themselves were to use marijuana recreationally, they feel most of their friends and family members would not change their opinion of them.”

65, 76, 81: Roughly three out of four American voters — including bipartisan majorities — support ending federal marijuana prohibition, expunging prior convictions and allowing banks to work with state-legal cannabis businesses, according to a recent poll from Data for Progress. It found that 74% of likely voters back federally legalizing marijuana, including 65% of Republicans, 76% of independents and 81% of Democrats.

Data for Progress also asked about cannabis banking reform, listing several key provisions of the House-passed Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. “Again,” the group reported, “there was majority support for each component, including giving the marijuana industry access to the traditional banking system (72%), ensuring non-discrimination in financial services for those businesses (77%) and protecting home loan eligibility for marijuana industry workers (73%).”

Steep rise: An overwhelming share of American adults (88%) said that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use by adults (59%), according to a Pew Research Center poll.

“Over the long term, there has been a steep rise in public support for marijuana legalization,” Pew noted. In addition, almost two-thirds of conservative and moderate Democrats (63%) said marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use. “An overwhelming majority of liberal Democrats (84%) said the same.”

So, what does this augur for the future of marijuana in America? “Vox populi, vox Dei.”