Published February 23, 2023
By Tom Angell
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Three Republican members of Congress are celebrating the results of a new poll showing that more than two-thirds of likely 2024 GOP presidential primary and caucus voters support federally legalizing marijuana so that states can make their own decisions on the issue.
The survey, released on Wednesday by the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation (CPEAR), found that 68 percent of respondents back ending federal marijuana prohibition. There was majority support across age, gender, educational and religious groups.
The new survey from CPEAR, which is funded by several alcohol and tobacco companies, included a separate question similarly finding that 70 percent support “allowing individual states to decide whether cannabis will be legal in their state.”
GOP lawmakers who have championed marijuana reform in Congress are welcoming the results.
“The polling is clear: federal cannabis prohibition is in direct contradiction to the overwhelming will of the American electorate, including a notable majority of conservative voters,” Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), who is a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said. “I hope more of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will heed the call of their constituents and join me in working towards a safe and effectively regulated legal marketplace that respects the rights of the over 40 states that have enacted some varying degree of legality. Continued inaction is no longer tenable.”
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who is another Cannabis Caucus co-chair, said that the survey result “isn’t surprising,” pointing to conservatives’ belief in states’ rights.
“At its core, cannabis is a state issue, and that’s what I’ll continue to advocate for: commonsense federal policy that lets 50 states decide on 50 solutions that are best for their constituents,” he said.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who filed a comprehensive marijuana legalization bill in the last Congress called the States Reform Act (SRA), said that “it appears the only place where cannabis reform is unpopular is in Washington, D.C.”
“It is time we give states the power to make decisions around cannabis without fear of federal consequences,” she said. “The provisions found in the SRA strike a balance between what voters are asking for and what regulatory framework exists for other industries. The ball is in our court as members of Congress to bring this legislation across the finish line.”
A third question in the new survey found that 52 percent of GOP voters are more likely to support Republican presidential candidates who back ending federal cannabis prohibition. At the same time, however, it also shows that marijuana ranks second to last in a list of issues that voters may consider when deciding whether to vote for a candidate.
The poll involved interviews with 600 likely 2024 Republican presidential primary and caucus voters over the age 21. It was conducted January 20-25, 2023 and has a margin of error for +/- 4 percentage points.
Polling has consistently shown that Americans broadly back marijuana reform in recent years.
That perspective was represented in a recent survey from Data for Progress that found a strong majority of American voters—including most Republicans, Democrats and independents—support legalizing marijuana at the federal level.
Just one in ten Americans say that marijuana should remain completely illegal, according to another poll from the Pew Research Center that was released in November.
Meanwhile, a Gallup poll released last year also found that seven in 10 Americans say that marijuana should be legalized—including majorities of all political parties and age demographics.