The legalization of marijuana has been a huge topic as of recently. With Congress proposing a new bill to legalize marijuana in all 50 states, how do Americans feel about this?
According to the Pew Research Center, in 1983, Americans opposed legalizing marijuana by 77 percent. Fast forward two decades, in the year of 2016, Americans favored legalization over opposing it with 57 percent favoring. In another survey conducted by the General Social Survey - a nationwide survey conducted every two years, since the early 1970's - found support ranging from 50 to 60 percent in 2016.
From the chart above, you can see a huge decline in public opinion on legalizing marijuana during the 1980's until the mid 90's. This can be attributed to the Reagan administrations crackdown on drugs. President Ronald Reagan and First Lady, Nancy Reagan, made anti-drug campaigns that would air on TV, where they would run with the motto "just say no." With this motto, the Reagan administration would build its legacy by supporting policy changes which would tighten restrictions on substance use. Following Reagan, President Bush would start the "War on Drugs", but times were changing by the 90's and people were realizing that marijuana could be used for medicinal purposes.
Now as we enter into 2017, with public support at the highest it has ever been in regards to legalizing marijuana, states are following in pursuit. The issue that might stand in the way will be the Trump administration and their approach on marijuana. Several members of the administration, including Jeff Sessions have been clearly outspoken on the topic. But across the border in Canada, under Justin Trudeau, Canada plans to legalize marijuana across the country by July 2018.