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Douglas Capraro Douglas Capraro

Graphic: Anti-Pot Americans Are Becoming More Open to Change

According to new research, the US is still divided on full legalization, but many Americans would come around if they understood the facts.

4 Substance

America is coming around to the idea of legal pot, but not all at the same speed. A new poll by moderate think tank Third Way breaks down data collected from a focus group to show where different demographics stand on both adult-recreational and medical use. Unsurprisingly, the majority of millennials, non-whites and political independents favor full legalization, while only 30% of Republicans are in favor. Medical marijuana enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support (below).

Overall, opinion on full legalization shows up at 50-50, unlike recent national surveys which show a small-but significant lead for the legalization camp. But a lot of people may be willing to relax their stance, Third Way found, if marijuana laws are explained to them “smartly enough.” They identified this portion of the population as the “marijuana middle,” where demographic and political affiliations are not critical.

Many focus group-ers were reportedly swayed by the argument that states should determine marijuana policies without federal interference. This, says Third Way, would put “advocates of a safe haven on the side of public safety—ensuring states can measure outcomes, regulate responsibly, and make sure that businesses play by the rules.”

These middling folk were also likely to be sold on the argument that a black market marijuana industry is less safe than a legal industry that earns tax revenue for the state. So, if you have friends who are still against legalization, it couldn’t hurt to do some explaining.