50 percent of young Christians support legalizing pot, survey says


A recent poll showing that a slim majority of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana made national headlines. And now, the pro-pot movement appears to have taken another step forward, with a survey showing that nearly half of all young Christians in the U.S. also favor legalizing cannabis.

In the poll, 50 percent of self-identified Christian youths ages 18-29 favor legalizing marijuana. Forty-four percent of those surveyed say they oppose legalization. Only 22 percent of Christian seniors who took part in the survey said they favor legalization.

“While most religious Americans overall continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana, the generational sea change on this issue is also shifting the ground inside churches,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI), the group that conducted the survey. “Christian young adults are twice as likely as Christian senior adults to say both that marijuana should be legal and that using marijuana is morally acceptable.”

Interestingly, a greater percentage young Christians say they find smoking pot to be morally acceptable compared with the general population. Fifty-two percent said they are OK with pot smoking, compared with 49 percent of all Americans.

Fifty-two percent of Christians belonging to an ethnic minority said they have smoked pot, compared with 44 percent of white Protestants and 40 percent of evangelical Protestants. Those numbers are in line with, or even greater than the average for all Americans, 42 percent of whom say they’ve tried marijuana.

Those who have smoked pot appear to have enjoyed the experience, with 65 percent of them favoring legalization. By the same token, 65 percent those who have never tried marijuana oppose decriminalizing it.

However, even among those who are opposed to marijuana legalization, more than 60 percent favor allowing it to be used for medical purposes when prescribed by a doctor.

“Marijuana, like the issue of same-sex marriage, appears headed for broader cultural acceptance,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI research director. “Six in 10 Americans do not believe that new laws legalizing the use of marijuana signal widespread moral decline in the country.”

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