Changing Opinions on Marijuana Legalization

 Posted on October 21, 2015 in Drug Crimes

marijuana, Gallup poll, Chicago criminal defense attorneyWith recent efforts to at least decriminalize marijuana, along with the introduction of a pilot program for the medical use of marijuana, Illinois seems to be remaining fairly contemporary regarding popular opinion about the drug. As one of 23 states with legalized medicinal marijuana, Illinois has stayed comfortably in the middle of the pack as it takes steps toward what many believe will be the ultimate legalization of recreational use. According to recent polling numbers, that is just what a majority of American would like to see.

Third Year in a Row

Noted polling organization Gallup reported that, for the third consecutive year, more than half of U.S. adults are in favor of making marijuana legal in this country. Gallup’s most recent numbers show that 58 percent of those polled support legalizing the drug’s use, tying 2013’s high-water mark. Polling numbers dipped 51 percent in 2014, but rebounded this year as the topic has gained momentum among 2016 presidential hopefuls.

Age Differences

Today’s opinions show a marked difference from when Gallup first asked the question back in 1969. In that polls, only 12 percent of Americans thought marijuana should be legal, led by 18-34 year olds, 20 percent of which were in favor then. Now, more than 70 percent of that same age group support legalization, still the highest percentage of any age group. The 65 and older age group, only 4 percent of which supported legalization in 1969, has also changed considerably. Today, 35 percent of senior citizens expressed favorable views on legalizing marijuana.

Other Demographic Factors

In addition to age, which certainly showed a dramatic difference across various groups, party affiliation seemed to coincide with the likelihood of supporting legalized marijuana. Those who identified as Democrat or independent were most likely be in favor, while Republicans—especially older Republicans—were found to be the least likely.

Of course public opinion trends mean little in terms of actual laws, but they could represent coming changes from elected officials. Pressure is likely to continue to increase regarding legalization of the drug, or at least the relaxation of marijuana-related prosecution. Whether recreational use will ever become completely legal nationwide remains to be seen, but, according to Gallup, the majority of Americans may not mind if it did.

If you are currently facing charges related to marijuana possession or distribution, contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Despite the changes in public attitude toward the drug, criminal penalties for a conviction can still be quite severe. At the Law Office of Hal M. Garfinkel, we are committed to helping you protect your rights and will work hard to find a solution that minimizes the negative impact to your future. Call 312-629-0669 to schedule your complimentary consultation today.


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