Uruguay is on its way to becoming the most pot-friendly nation on the planet, with the country’s congress set to both legalize recreational use of the drug and authorize the government to sell it (at dirt-cheap rates, no less). This move would likely be a popular move in America, as a new Gallup poll revealed Monday that, for the first time, a majority of Americans want to legalize marijuana. Perhaps most notably, Americans want this more than, well, just about anything else.
The survey shows that 58 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization. That’s a ten-point jump in just the last year, and a monumental shift from the early 2000s, when the public opposed legalization by a thirty-point margin. Unsurprisingly, younger people are more likely to support legalized weed, and the only group that registers majority disapproval of the drug are fuddy-duddies 65 years and older.
As Josh Barro notes, a 58 percent approval rating is not only something most politicians would kill for, but also a far higher level of support than almost anything any other topic that regularly gets polled: Legalized marijuana is thus more popular than marriage equality (52 percent); Obamacare (38 percent); attacking Syria (36 percent); and both political parties (duh). The few policies that are more popular than marijuana legalization include legalized sex between gay people (which some politicians actually oppose) and universal background checks on gun purchases.
So, is marijuana officially on its way to becoming the next gay marriage? Who knows, but a promising sign for marijuana advocates came earlier this year, when the Justice Department announced that it wouldn’t sue Colorado and Washington, both which enacted statewide initiatives to legalize recreational use (and now sales) of the drug. As Bustle reported:
Thanks to a joint effort between Washington lawyers and the State Liquor board, the state has now become the second in the nation, following Colorado, to adopt rules for recreational marijuana sales. The legislation, which takes effect Nov. 18, took a year to devise and is incredibly comprehensive: In addition to capping state production at 80 metric tons, it also covers the size of ‘marijuana gardens’ and details what security will be in place. Marijuana will also be taxed at a high rate, but the "tens or hundreds of millions" it brings in will be redirected to drug abuse and public health programs.
President Obama, for his part, seems to get paranoid when he thinks about legalization too hard. “The president does not at this point support a change in the law,” the White House said this summer. (Then again, that's what he used to say about gay marriage.) Watch him dodge the question: