Being young means you love marijuana. Being young and Republican apparently means the same thing.
A new study finds that Millennials who identify with the GOP support legal weed by nearly two thirds. The study, by the Pew Research Center, was published in early March.
More than six in ten Republicans under the age of 34, 63 percent, said they want to see marijuana legalized. By contrast, 77 percent of Democrats in that age group back the idea. The 14-point gap may suggest Republicans are stuck in the mud on cannabis.
Marijuana acceptable on the rise
But acceptance of the idea is growing rapidly among conservative Millennials. The same is true to a lesser extent of the next oldest generation, the Generation Xers. Fifty percent of Gen X Republicans said they want to legalize, while 61 percent of Gen X Democrats said the same.
“The debate over marijuana also comes ahead of the 2016 Presidential election when both political parties are fighting over the coveted Millennial vote as this group of eligible voters swells in size, even if its members do not consistently show up on Election Day,” Pew said in a statement.
Weed is now legal in four places: Alaska, Washington State, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. (though legalization there is still somewhat unsettled). Pot will go legal in Oregon later this year.
Legal marijuana was born in 2012, when Washington and Colorado voters approved the idea at the ballot box. Last November, two years later, Oregon and Alaska joined them, as did voters in Washington, D.C.
Medical cannabis is legal in another 19 states, including California and New York. The concept began when California voters passed the world’s first MMJ law in 1996. Pot is decriminalized in an additional 14 states, while it remains entirely illegal in 17.
New era shaped by Millenials
The massive and growing acceptance of marijuana by young voters is part of a generational progression away from a deeply conservative era
shaped by President Ronald Reagan. The United States appears to be moving into a very progressive era born when President Obama was first elected.
Many political analysts predict a tidal shift in weed laws and attitudes across the country. The Millennials are believed to be the driving force behind this shift, which features a strong focus on removing social constraints on modern society.
Pew reported as much a year ago in a poll on same-sex marriage. Sixty-one percent of self-identifying Republicans under 30 support gay marriage while 77 percent of young Democrats agreed.
All of this is good news for stoners. First, it means an easier fight to legalize in many places. More importantly, though, it means increased membership in that elite circle of Americans known as potheads. Hell, toking with a Republican might be even more of a gas than lighting up with a Democrat.