The Washington Post

Why age may hold the key to marijuana legalization in California

California’s Democrats this weekend added marijuana legalization to their party platform.

Unfortunately for fans of legal weed, it doesn’t seem likely to find a vehicle in the near future, but all it may take is for the population to age.

Two attempts to get the measure on the ballot this year were recently aborted: one because proponents failed to collect enough signatures and the other because they wanted to wait until 2016 to get it right rather than fast, they said. But before they gave up, the Field Poll was able to conduct a survey of Californians about their stance on legalization. Support won out by a sizable margin, with 56 percent in favor and 39 percent opposed. There were big, unsurprising ideological divides as well: Democrats and strong liberals were far more in favor of legalization than Republicans and strong conservatives.

But the results of that December survey, pasted below, show something else, too: Outside of ideology, legalization is winning by big margins among the highly educated, single people and, perhaps most importantly, younger registered voters.

Marital status showed the biggest gap, but that could very well be due to age. (Census data show the obvious: You’re less likely to be single as you age and more likely to be — or have been — married.) Education showed the next widest gap — just 39 percent of those without a college degree support legalization. But that jumps to 65 percent of Californians with post-graduate degrees.

The age gap is nearly as wide, with only 47 percent of seniors supporting legalization compared to 64 percent of those ages 18 to 49. That might not only explain why the state’s Democrats disagree with Gov. Jerry Brown — who turns 76 next month — but also why legalization may not be too far off. The same is true in other states, too, as we pointed out last week. A majority already supports legalization in California, and the youngest factions, where support is broadest, will eventually overtake less-favorable seniors.

(Field Poll)
(Field Poll)
Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Perks of private flying
Drawing as an act of defiance
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
From foster homes to the working world
Play Videos
How soccer is helping Philadelphia men kick the streets
Here's why you hate the sound of your own voice
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
Play Videos
How hackers can control your car from miles away
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
How much can one woman eat?
Next Story
Reid Wilson · March 10, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.