It’s one thing when marijuana activists hijack an unscientific poll on Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly’s personal website, as they did in July 2014.
It’s something else entirely when the conservative 24-hour news network scientifically polls 1,012 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) with a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points and finds that — get this — America really does want legal cannabis.
For the first time, the Fox News poll finds more than half (51 percent) favor legalizing marijuana, while 44 percent oppose it. That’s little changed from last year when it was 50-43 percent (January 2014).
In 2013, the same poll showed a different picture: 46 percent wanted legalization while 49 percent opposed.
As common as it’s been to see major polls showing support for legalization (see here, here and here), reform advocate Tom Angell says it’s “particularly sweet” to see these results coming from Fox News.
“It’s becoming less and less exciting whenever new polls show majority support for legalization, since they pretty much all do these days,” said Angell, chairman of advocacy group Marijuana Majority. “But that’s a good thing, and it’s pretty safe to say that marijuana reform is now officially at the forefront of mainstream American politics.
“That said, I do have to admit it is particularly sweet to see the Fox News poll now reaching the tipping point of majority support.”
While the poll’s results are somewhat surprising, considering the source, the poll’s demographic break-down isn’t.
By a 15 percentage-point margin, voters under 35 (54 percent) are more likely than those 65+ (39 percent) to favor legalizing marijuana. And by a 10-point margin, men (56 percent) are more likely than women (46 percent) to favor it.
Majorities of Democrats (62 percent) and independents (53 percent) support legalizing marijuana, while a majority of Republicans opposes it (59 percent).
But Angell said some of the polling data on conservative voters’ attitudes toward legalization works for reform advocates’ agendas.
“While we still have a ways to go in getting more conservatives on board with full legalization, it’s very helpful for our Congressional efforts to be able to point to numbers showing that big majorities of Republicans at least support medical cannabis and the notion of letting states set their own marijuana policies without federal interference.”