Even As Congress Fights Over Cannabis, People in Adult Use ‘Legal’ States Seem Pretty Happy With That Legalization

Even as Democrats and Republicans in Congress spar over whether cannabis businesses should be eligible for COVID-19 federal loans, most Americans in adult-use legal states already view legalization as successful.
Written by 
Joan Oleck, Cannabis Journalist.
|Last Updated:
Legal Cannabis

A new YouGov.com survey of 32,342 adult Americans revealed that a majority of residents in eight adult-use cannabis agreed that legalization had worked. Those eight states were California, Oregon, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada and Washington.

Only one state included in the April survey, Maine, did not share this view.

Five of the adult use legal states — Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, California and Massachusetts — took their residents’ “successful” assessment rating beyond the majority rating: Fully two-thirds, or even more (up to 71%) of those surveyed in these states rated legalization a success.

(Two more adult use states – Alaska and Vermont – did not yield sufficient state-level samples to be included in the survey.)

Residents surveyed were asked, specifically, whether they believed that adult use legalization had been a success or more than a success than a failure. Those in the states firmly under the “success” banner were: Colorado, 71%; Oregon, Illinois and California, all 69%; Massachusetts, 67%; Washington, 65%; Nevada, 64%; and Michigan, 56%.

Maine, the sole state not in the majority “success” fold, showed a 47% “success” rating. Maine has yet to fully implement its legalization.

Maine aside, the survey results were apparently a gratifying result for long-time cannabis supporters at the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws. “This new poll confirms what we already knew: Legalization works,” said Justin Strekal, NORML’s political director, said in an interview. “The sky has not fallen; the sun still rises in the east; and we see that the creation of top-paying jobs for Americans, whether direct or indirect, means more contracts are licensed, and electricians plumbers [are being hired].

“It means less illicit activity happening in their community. It’s an all-round positive development to enable legal cannabis sales.”

In a statement, NORML’s deputy director Paul Armentano added, “This polling data reaffirms that most voters do not experience ‘buyer’s remorse’ following marijuana legalization. In the minds of most Americans, adult-use marijuana regulations are operating as voters intended and in a manner that is consistent with their expectations.”

The YouGov survey continues a trend toward increasing acceptance of legalization. State-specific surveys in California and Washington, for instance, have shown majorities of those states’ survey groups approving legalization. A national Gallup poll showed that 60% of Americans surveyed favored legalization.

For the newest, YouGov survey, 67% of the “success” group were Democrats, 54% were Independents and 41% were Republicans.

These people are supporting legalization while their federal representatives battle it out in Washington. A $3 trillion aim package House Democrats proposed on May 12 would include a safe harbor provision for banks that work with cannabis companies. The provision mirrors the SAFE Banking Act which has previously passed the House but is pending before the Republican-controlled Senate.


Joan Oleck
Joan Oleck
Cannabis Journalist
Joan Oleck is a freelance writer currently specializing in the cannabis industry and cannabis tech. She has been an editor and reporter on staff for such publications as Forbes.com, Business Week, Newsday and The Detroit News. She won the Jesse Neal Award for best feature series in a trade publication, Restaurant Business, and a GLAAD Award for a Salon story about discrimination in adoption against single and gay parents

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