In less than a decade, public opinion has shifted dramatically toward support for the legalization of marijuana: A recent national survey showed a narrow national majority in favor of legalization, and its supporters translated this sentiment into ballot initiative victories in Colorado and Washington State in 2012, report E.J. Dionne, Jr. and William A. Galston.
May 29, 2013
The temptation is to conclude that the trend in favor of marijuana legalization is similar to the flow of opinion in favor of same-sex marriage, but not all hot-button social issues are created equal, Dionne and Galston write. It is much less clear that opinion on marijuana will follow the exact evolution of social issues such as marriage equality, the authors assert.
Surveying a wealth of new data on public attitudes toward marijuana legalization, this paper explains the forces and limits behind the trend toward legalization. The authors seek to answer the following: Which trajectory, that of gay marriage or abortion (if either), is more likely to augur the path that opinion on marijuana may take? And will the country see the emergence of a broad pro-legalization consensus, or rather of a durably divisive cultural disagreement?
Dionne and Galston arrive at the following conclusions: