Support for marijuana legalization is on the rise, even among Independents, the elderly, and Christians, according to recent surveys.
For the first time since Gallup started polling Americans about marijuana in 1969, a clear majority of Americans–58 percent–supports the legalization of marijuana, according to a new poll released in October. The poll showed that support decreases with age and increases toward political left. But the percent of young adults and Democrats supporting the legalization of pot did not jump significantly over the last year, staying steady at 67 and 65 percent respectively. Instead, new groups are showing support.
According to Gallup, 62 percent of political Independents support legalization, up 12 percentage points in the last year. Support for legalization among those 65 and older jumped 14 percentage points since 2011, from 31 to 45 percent.
Since 1998, 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized or effectively decriminalized marijuana for medical use. Voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana last November, and advocates in California are moving towards a statewide referendum on the topic in 2014.
This week, residents in the city of Portland, Maine, and three cities in Michigan voted to pass new laws allowing the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Colorado residents also approved a 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana, which will fund both state education and regulations of the burgeoning recreational marijuana industry.
According to another survey released last spring by the Public Religion Research Institute, Christian young adults are in line with growing public support for the legalization of marijuana. Fifty percent of Christians ages 18 to 29 now support the legalization of marijuana, and 52 percent believe that use of the drug is “morally acceptable.”
In a podcast about marijuana use, John Piper said Christians should turn away from “anything we do that would numb our mind or dull our mind or distract our mind away from the growing capacity to know God better and love him more.” But he leaves room for medicinal use of the drug. “I would like for those who can get real relief from careful usage of this God-created thing to have access to it.”
One Christian family in Colorado sees growing and selling medicinal marijuana as an opportunity to help sick people, even kids. The Stanley family owns a 52-acre marijuana farm near Divide, Colo. They have developed a strand of marijuana with a low content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that makes people high, and a high content of cannabidiol (CBD), the component believed to carry medicinal qualities. The Stanley’s strain of marijuana has been shown to dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in kids with epilepsy.
“We are not a bunch of stoners, and we do not associate with the stereotypes of what people would like to associate with us,” said Joel Stanley in an interview with the Colorado Springs Gazette. “We care about what we do.”