marijuana legalization is not a youth issue

Because we study young people, I am always being asked questions about marijuana legalization that presume it would be popular among youth–and could even boost their interest in politics. I’ve been skeptical because I have never seen a survey of issue priorities in which marijuana has even made the list; and young activists rarely mention it. (Some talk about the incarceration crisis, but that is a bigger topic.)

Fortunately, the American National Election Study gives us some actual data. It asked people immediately after the 2012 election whether they favored legalizing marijuana. That proposal was fairly popular, although support did not exceed 50%, and it was not especially a youth issue.

Ages 18-29 Ages 30+
Yes, it should be legal 41.8 42
No, it should not be legal 30.7 32.7
Won’t say 27.5 25.3

The differences by age are inconsequential.

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.