Seventy-two percent of Americans agree: enforcing marijuana laws costs more than they are worth.
On the heels of Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the federal government will avoid mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders, a Pew Research study shows that American attitudes towards marijuana are more easygoing than ever.
The survey, which was conducted in March, found that three in four Americans are skeptical of the value of enforcing anti-pot laws (72 percent). Sixty percent of those polled said that the federal government should not enforce federal laws in Colorado and Washington State, where voters approved marijuana last year for recreational use.
Additionally, the survey appears to have finally found something with genuine bipartisan support as Republicans agreed with Democrats and independents on the issue. The Pew study found that 67 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats, and 78 percent of independents believe government efforts to enforce anti-pot laws are not worth the cost.
The younger demographic is more likely to agree: 76 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say government enforcement is costing too much, compared with 72 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 63 percent of those over 65.
Marijuana is also no longer seen by a majority of people as the dreaded “gateway drug.” Today, just 38 percent of Americans view it that way, down from 60 percent recorded in a 1977 Gallup poll. Again, older Americans take a slightly harder stance than younger people – 56 percent of those over 65 say that pot smoking leads to using harder drugs, compared with only about 33 percent in younger age groups.