2015 was a milestone for progress in the legalization of marijuana. Four states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana. Many states have decriminalized it and several states have initiatives for November that are focusing to approve medical marijuana, such as; Nevada, California, Arizona, and Maine. But for all the success in 2015, the year was just a run up to 2016, while the presidential election is expected to be accompanied by a ramp up in legalization.
Marijuana legalization is particularly favored with Liberals with about 69 percent supporting, Independents about 57 percent, and nearly half of Republican voters support legalization as well. There is a significant age gap when it comes to this issue. Sixty-two percent of 18-to-29 year olds support legalization, compared to only 56 percent of those aged 30-49 years old. Twenty-four percent of legalization supporters said marijuana should be made available “only with a medical prescription.” Another 43 percent said there should be “restrictions on purchase amounts.” And one-third of legalization supporters said there should be “no restrictions” on purchase amounts.
“This is yet another demonstration of just how ready Americans are for the end of marijuana prohibition,” said Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority, a marijuana reform group in an interview with the Washington Post. “The growing level of support for legalization that we see in poll after poll is exactly why we’re now in a situation for the first time in history where every major presidential candidate in both parties has pledged to let states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference.”
But the survey is still likely to put some wind at the back of reformers hoping for progress on marijuana this year. And the growing levels of public support for legal marijuana — up from 44 percent at the start of the Obama administration — mean that the next president and Congress may face more pressure to make changes to marijuana law at the federal level. Congress is expecting a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the CARERS Act to allow states to legalize marijuana without federal interference and reschedule marijuana to a schedule II drug. By the end of the year several more states could be among those who have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. Of course, their success is dependent upon the activists and voters in each state.