A record high number of respondents to a Gallup poll released Wednesday said they support the legalization of marijuana, including more than half of Republicans polled.
Overall, 64 percent of those reached by Gallup said they support the legalization of marijuana, up 4 percentage points from October 2016. The percentage of Gallup respondents who support legalization has climbed consistently since 2012, when 48 percent of those polled said they supported it.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but the drug has been legalized by eight states and the District of Columbia. Many other states allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes under laws with varying degrees of strictness.
Using a novel method to measure the risk of mortality associated with the use of various legal and illegal drugs, scientists have confirmed what earlier studies have indicated: alcohol is the deadliest, while marijuana is the least risky.
According to the study, at the individual level, booze presents the highest risk of death, followed by nicotine, cocaine and heroin, suggesting the risks of alcohol consumption have likely been underestimated in the past. Marijuana was found to be significantly less deadly and sat at the other end of the spectrum, in agreement with previous research which has consistently ranked it as the safest recreational drug. While this may not be what governments want to hear, it highlights the need to use scientific evidence whilst creating policies regarding the use of licit and illicit drugs.
It seems that much of the world made up their mind a long time ago about the dangers of illegal substances. This, combined with the fact that it’s difficult to assess and classify the risk of drug abuse in people, means that few studies exist in which scientists have compared the dangers of different drugs. Furthermore, since illegal drug abuse is regarded as a bigger problem for society than using other known harmful substances, such as alcohol and even various prescription drugs, governments have tended to go for restrictive policies that are more often than not based on emotion and educated guesses.