Washington, D.C. — New polling from the Center of American Progress and GBA Strategies shows that 68 percent of voters support marijuana legalization. Support for marijuana legalization includes majorities of all partisan, gender, and racial groups: 77 percent of Democrats; 62 percent of independents; 57 percent of Republicans; 66 percent of men; 69 percent of women; 69 percent of whites; 72 percent of African Americans; and 64 percent of Latinos support legalization.
“This finding of widespread, bipartisan national support for marijuana legalization is important as Congress begins to take initial steps in this arena,” says Ed Chung, vice president of Criminal Justice Reform at CAP. “There is clear overwhelming public support for marijuana legalization, and cities and states across the country are taking action. It is time for a national effort to catch up with legislation to liberalize outdated marijuana policies.”
In addition, the poll finds 70 percent of voters support clean slate legislation that automatically seals nonviolent criminal records, which has been gaining traction at the state level with a first-in-the-nation bipartisan clean slate policy set to become law in Pennsylvania this month. Even a minor criminal record such as a misdemeanor or an arrest that never led to a conviction can create lifetime barriers to employment, housing, and other basic building blocks of economic stability. These barriers stand in the way of successful re-entry, driving up recidivism rates and correctional costs and making it impossible for millions of Americans to move on with their lives and become productive members of society. The poll finds widespread, bipartisan support for “clean slate” legislation as commonsense part of criminal justice reform, including 73 percent of African American voters; 62 percent of Latino voters; 61 percent of self-identified independents; 66 percent of Republicans; and 75 percent of Democrats. In addition, 73 percent of voters supported automatically sealing marijuana offenses, as an important counterpart to legalization.
“Legalizing marijuana is an important first step, but it must go hand in hand with enabling people with marijuana records to receive a clean slate so they can move on with their lives” says Rebecca Vallas, vice president for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at CAP. “As momentum continues to grow for marijuana legalization, Congress must ensure that people with marijuana convictions do not face a life sentence to poverty.”
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