The survey takes a look at changing trends in public opinion following the legalization of the drug in Colorado despite a standing federal ban.
A majority of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana, a CNN/ORC International survey shows.
55 percent of those questioned support the legalization of the drug, with 44 percent disagreeing. The new data remains consistent with an increasing trend in favor of marijuana legalization over the years, from 16 percent in 1987 to 26 percent in 1996, 34 percent in 2002, and 43 percent in 2012. The survey comes on the heels of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana use despite a federal ban on the drug that still remains in place.
These new trends reflect the fact that while social changes can bring about the amending of the law of the land, changes in the law can also condition social views. The law is indeed a teacher, or at the very least a catalyst for social transformation. Take, for instance, the case of contraceptives and abortion, both of which became legal after to the Supreme Court rulings that struck down all standing state bans on them. Like marijuana, contraceptives and abortions were sought out by those who wanted them prior to their widespread legalization, despite general societal disapproval. But after the Court legitimized them, they became enshrined in law, and are now defended vigorously by interest groups in the name of “reproductive freedom.” Society has been conditioned not only to accept them as a result of the Court’s action, but to embrace them as values of a democratic and freedom-loving society. Fast forward to 2014, and access to free contraceptives are now even mandated under the federal government’s new health care law.
If there is a case to be made against the use of marijuana – whether it be the potential long-term physiological damage that can happen as a result of non-therapeutic, recreational use, or the fact that “getting high” prevents us from being the composed, rational creatures that we can potentially be while conditioning a sociocultural ethos that overlooks this aspect of human telos – then the law, given its role as a shaper of society, ought to reflect it.
Alberto González is the Associate Editor of Aleteia’s English edition. His prior endeavors have included working in political campaigns and in the United States Senate. He also maintains an active schedule as a liturgical vocalist and organist.
A native of California, Alberto graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2010 with a B.A. in Music and Political Science. He currently lives in the greater Washington, D.C. area.