New poll identifies two policy proposals 90 percent of Americans support

Americans overwhelmingly want medical marijuana and background checks on guns

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 6, 2019 3:21PM (EST)


In America today, it is controversial to support legalizing medical marijuana and requiring background checks before
all gun purchases. Right?

Not if the latest poll by the venerable Quinnipiac University is to be believed.

According to the recent poll, 93 percent of voters support medical marijuana if a doctor prescribed it, with only 5 percent opposing it. The numbers shrink somewhat when it comes to non-medical marijuana, but are still decisively in the "legalize it" category: 85 percent of 18-to-34 year olds want it legalized, 63 percent of 35 to 49 year olds want that and 59 percent of 50 to 64 year olds believe it should be legalized. Only when it comes to voters over 65 years old do the numbers skew against legalization, with 44 percent supporting it and 49 percent opposing it.

Overall 60 percent of voters believe marijuana should be made legal in the United States, with only 33 percent believing it should not. Similarly, 63 percent of American voters want to erase criminal records for marijuana possession with only 29 percent opposing doing so. By contrast, though, only 45 percent of Republicans want to erase criminal records for marijuana users, with 47 percent opposing it.

"Every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group supports erasing criminal records," the survey explains.

So far ten states and one federal district have legalized marijuana for recreational use. These include Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and Washington DC. Twenty-two states and Washington DC have decriminalized it including Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Despite these efforts, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I illegal substance under federal law.

The results were similarly decisive when it comes to the issue of gun control.

Eighty-six percent of American voters support a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives that requires background checks for all gun purchases (including those conducted at gun shows and by online vendors), including 80 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of gun owners. When asked if they support "requiring background checks for all gun buyers," 93 percent of voters said that they do, including 89 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of gun owners. The survey also noted that support for universal background checks has fluctuated from 88 percent to 97 percent in every poll taken by Quinnipiac University since February 2013, with the numbers peaking at 97 percent in the immediate aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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