Via the Week, the most eye-popping result from an eye-popping Pew poll showing American attitudes towards drugs softening in various ways. Not only does every demographic now regard alcohol as more harmful than weed, it’s not remotely close. Even when you ask people whether their opinion would change if marijuana was widely available, alcohol still wins by double-digit margins within every group, including seniors(!).
Prohibition can’t survive a result like this for much longer. If a drug universally regarded as more dangerous is perfectly legal, pot’s Schedule I status isn’t long for this world.
You’ve got clear majorities of Republicans on both halves of that question. Which is not to say that people are sanguine about legalization: Although 54 percent now support it, 55 percent say drug abuse is a “serious problem” and 54 percent think legalization will inevitably lead more kids to try it. That sounds like people have decided, correctly in my opinion, not that there are no risks to legalizing weed but rather that the risks of continued prohibition are greater. Other data points to the same conclusion. Sixty-three percent now oppose mandatory sentences for drug offenses; in 2001, just 46 percent did. Sixty-seven percent support treatment for illegal drug users versus just 32 percent who prefer prosecution. That’s something close to total victory for the NORML types out there. The change in opinion is probably too late to shift candidates’ attitudes much for the 2016 election, since both parties are terrified of what seniors might do if this becomes a hot button, but by 2020 you may have an openly pro-legalization candidate heading the Democratic ticket and someone not far from that position heading the Republican one.
One interesting, expectation-confounding wrinkle that caught my eye was this:
Blacks and whites are, for once, in basic agreement — but Latinos vary considerably. Why is that? Any theories?