On Marijuana, Young Republicans Say ‘Legalize it’ but Congressional Republicans Say ‘No’

by | Mar 3, 2015


According to Pew Research Center poll results released Friday, 63 percent of Millennial Generation Republicans support marijuana legalization. On this issue these Republicans born between 1981 and 1996 have more in common with Democrats than with Republicans generally. And these young Republicans are definitely at odds with the majority of Republicans in the United States House of Representatives who continue to vote “no” on rollbacks of the US government’s war on marijuana.

The further we look back through earlier generations of Republicans, the less support for legalization we see — 47 percent among Generation X (born in 1965 through 1980), 38 percent among the Baby Boom Generation (born in 1946 through 1964), and 17 percent among the Silent Generation (born in 1928 through 1945). In contrast, substantial majorities, ranging from 61 percent to 77 percent, support marijuana legalization in each of these generations of Democrats, except among the oldest polled generation — the Silent Generation — where support registers at 44 percent.

The Pew poll results suggest that the majority of Millennial Republicans and nearly half of Generation X Republicans would be happy with the US House’s approval, by a floor vote in May 2014, of telling the US government to respect states’ legalization of medical marijuana and hemp. These Republicans also likely would be disappointed by the fact that the vast majority of Republican House members voted against these war on marijuana rollbacks. Only 22 percent of voting Republican legislators voted “yes” on the medical marijuana provision. A bit more — 30 percent — voted “yes” on the hemp provision. Both provisions received the support of over 90 percent of voting Democratic House members.

Americans who identify themselves as Republicans in the Pew poll would likely support both of these war on marijuana rollbacks passed in the House by even higher percentages than their support levels for marijuana legalization in each respective generation. Legalization of medical marijuana or hemp is much less broad an action than full marijuana legalization. Further, many Republicans, of any age, who oppose even these partial rollbacks of marijuana prohibition on the state level also believe that the US government should nonetheless respect a state’s decision to follow its own course on these matters.

The trend reflected in the Pew poll results suggests that American politicians will, with each passing year, face electorates increasingly supportive of marijuana legalization — including in Republican primaries. A major shift in marijuana public opinions and policy is ongoing in America. Many politicians will be caught off guard by the major changes yet to come. Expect voters to boot out more drug warrior politicians because of those politicians’ increasingly discordant views regarding marijuana. Also watch for politicians to increasingly shift their positions so they publicly support rollbacks in the war on marijuana.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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