Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. More than half (51%) of Republicans want marijuana to be legal.
That’s the finding of a Gallup poll on the subject.
This is another astonishingly fast shift in values. In 1969, with the counter-culture in full bloom, only 12% of Americans supported marijuana legalization. By 2001, a third of Americans wanted legalized pot. In 2004, that number held steady, with the additional finding that 20% of Republicans were in favor. By 2013, a majority of Americans supported marijuana legalization. And now today the numbers are overwhelming.
As we’ve blogged about, politicians are jumping on the issue.
The trajectory of Americans’ views on marijuana is similar to that of their views on same-sex marriage over the past couple of decades. On both issues, about a quarter supported legalization in the late 1990s, and today 64% favor each. Over the past several years, Gallup has found that Americans have become more liberal on a variety of social issues.
But conservatives as well as liberals are indicating their support for legalized drugs. Are the conservatives succumbing to social liberalism? Or is this a manifestation of conservative libertarianism?
Not all conservatives want to loosen America’s drug laws. In a story for NPR, Domenico Montanaro quotes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said,”Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” The Trump administration is also resisting state legalization, which conflicts with continued criminalization on the federal level. Montaro quotes former Trump spokesman Sean Spicer:
“When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we need to be doing is encouraging people. . . .There is still a federal law we need to abide by.”
Isn’t that a good point? Some might think legal marijuana would be a safer alternative to people addicted to pain-killers. Most of those opioids are legal–with a prescription–and some would like them criminalized.
The Gallup poll doesn’t break out religious beliefs. But two-thirds of Americans and half of Republicans would have to include large numbers of Christians.
I’d be curious to know the percentage of evangelicals, Catholics, mainline Protestants, members of various denominations (including Lutherans) who would like to see marijuana legalized.
Gay marriage has a strong Scriptural warrant against it, but the Bible doesn’t address drugs directly, as far as I know, except for prohibitions against intoxication. But among “the works of the flesh” that St. Paul warns against is pharmakeia (Galatians 5:20). That word from which we derive “pharmacy” is translated “sorcery.” But Strong’s Greek Lexicon also says it can also refer to the administration of drugs or medicine. Its original sense, says Strong, was probably “drug-related sorcery.”
I suspect there are different positions on marijuana legalization among Christians.
I’d like to hear from Christians who can make a case for legalizing marijuana. Do some of you use marijuana even though it is illegal? Would any of you use marijuana if it were legal?
Photo by Mike Mozart, via Flickr, Creative Commons License