Twenty-Five Years of Public Opinion

Marijuana Legalization

It is possible to trace the public polling regarding an issue or research in the United States and obtain these results from various survey organizations and the internet. The public opinion poll is done to present the views of the people concerning an issue in addition to obtaining information about the topic from the public members. Results of such polls are done by different organizations like the New York Times, CBS, and CNN and are made available on the internet and other media sources. According to Barcott (13), these survey organizations also collect relevant information concerning the issue. The following essay discusses polling results regarding marijuana and the information collected from the public. This essay also presents discussions concerning the trend of the results, identifying whether there are any changes in results from time to time and the reason there is the rise or fall of the support.

The Public Opinion, Policy, and Public Judgment

Bardes and Oldendick in the book Public Opinion: Measuring the American Mind examine the significance of the opinion of the public and ask whether this opinion really matters. They begin by claiming that what the community wants is generally interpreted as a public policy. The authors also claim that coming up with something to link the public opinion to policy has proved complicated given the increasing figure of potential manipulations in these policies.

Gieringer et al. (13) claim that the opinion of the public reported after polls is rather misleading since it represents the views of the people rather than their thoughts that are generally judgments. One can consider the judgment of the public as the state of intense assembled opinion after the public has engaged in a concern for a long time. The public has considered the matter from all perspectives, understood its consequences, and was ready to embrace all of them. Boosting public judgment’s quality is vital in ensuring an effective kind of self-governance in America.

Origin of Polling

While the opinion of the public had an advanced role to play in the United States, the manner of measurements of the views of the citizens has changed over time. In the past, the people of America were mixed up in their opinions regarding the responsibilities of the members in the political process of this country. The public opinion origin can be regarded not as a desire of the state officials to examine the view of the citizens on certain issues but as a desire to obtain the voting intentions of the voters themselves. Gallup has indicated that the results of the pre-election campaign held in 1824 were a clear reflection of the survey work of modern opinion.

Polling Information about Marijuana Support

It was not until 1990’s, that there was a notable change in the number of people supporting the legalization of marijuana. Gallup polls show that in the period of 1995, almost 25% Americans supported the legalization of cannabis (Polling Report). However, the survey does not inquire whether the use of marijuana among individuals is for the recreational or medical purpose. The percentage of people supporting legalization of cannabis is increasing and the poll result shows that in 2015, 58% of the Americans support its legalization (Polling Report). It shows that more than a half of the American population supports the substance use in the country.

According to the polls, in the year 2014, 51% of American citizens supported the legalization while 48% supported it in the year 2013. The poll results have shown an increment in the percentage of those people supporting its legalization. According to the data collected in the years 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2011, the percentages were 25%, 31%, 33%, 34%, 36%, 44%, 46%, and 50% respectively (Barcott 17).

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Other results from other organizations such as CBS also show an increase in the number of those supporting cannabis legalization. In the year 2013, only 45% of American population supported it while 53% supported it in the year 2015 (Polling Report). In the year 2014, 52% of men and 44% of women supported it (Polling Report). In the same year, 60% of those aged between 18 and 29 years and 57% of those between 30 and 44 years supported marijuana legalization (Polling Report). The polls from the same organization made further classifications and cited that 34% of the Republicans, 60% of the Democrats, and 55% of the Independents supported it (Polling Report). An increase in the percentage of the Democrats and the Independents was recorded, as in the previous year, it was 59% and 54% respectively (Polling Report). The number of Republicans who supported its legalization dropped because the previous year it was 35% (Polling Report).

Results show that the majority supports legalization of the substance for a third year running. Most supporters are the young generation who are more supportive as compared to the older one. However, the older generation is more supportive of the substance in recent years as compared to the past years (Barcott 17). In particular, the number is higher compared to the older Americans who had only 4% supporting the idea in the year 1969.

Reasons for the Change in Public Opinion

The number has increased overwhelmingly since some people believe cannabis has some benefits, including spiritual ones, as many perceive spiritual as something that enlivens. According to information collected from people, they believe that force of life is not necessarily a holy expression. Nowadays, marijuana assists several individuals in realizing general core values. They argue that cannabis does not only balance the body but also enhances mental processes and helps to identify the abiding reality via raising people’s consciousness. They also claim that through balance, this substance can enliven the core of knowing and understanding things (Wilson 17). Spiritual morals were abandoned in materialism era during which marijuana was outlawed. Ironically, these values or morals are absent in the modern era; therefore, many ardently seek to find them while consuming the substance. People argue that spirit realm is supreme and regard anything that presents the prospects of uplifting either physical or spiritual power as sacred hence recognize it (Gieringer et al. 23).

However, the young Americans have come up with other ideas and other benefits brought by this substance and highly support its legalization. They claim that it assists individuals in testing their limits. Furthermore, young people state that one may feel creative after using marijuana and throw away one’s inhibitions. However, they also argue that substance use may have different effects on each person. If an individual is shy, these effects after using cannabis make one a talkative and an outgoing person. Moreover, people may realize that they have a talent for music or skiing among several other activities. Thus, supporters argue that substance after using may make the person relaxed, hence helping one to activate the dormant talents (Wilson 22).

Marijuana also unlocks one’s creativity. People are used to following a certain daily routine all the time. For instance, they wake up, go to work, return home, and finally go back to sleep. Therefore, individuals argue that cannabis makes one change usual routine and permits one to enlighten up and think in a different manner. It makes one realize how inventive, artistic, and innovative one may be (Gieringer et al. 23).

Young Americans also have a trend of arguing that marijuana brings people of different race and age group together. Using the substance helps to bring individuals into a different reality, as well as to be precise, imaginative, and creative. After using marijuana, people think and speak freely with different persons. They engage in deep conversations, which connects them in a manner that a sober mind would not do. Nevertheless, experts argue that there should not be any excess since people may not be able to interact well with their companions (Gerber 34). In addition, young people claim that it makes persons think differently. The substance can unlock various manners of thinking that one would find difficult while in a sober state of mind. The traditional thinking ways are sent to the back of the mind and divergent kind of thinking is set in the forefront (Barcott 27).

The percentage has also increased rapidly since some people argue it is beneficial from the medical perspective, claiming that it decreases anxiety. For instance, marijuana assists in relieving pain and suppressing nausea. Another beneficial factor from the medical perspective is that it helps to eliminate chemotherapy’s side effects. However, health officers claim it should be used in a low dose that would be beneficial for checking the moods of the users. They also state that overdose may increase anxiety and make some people paranoid (Dale et al. 23).

Furthermore, the increasing trend of support for this drug is because many people argue that it eases multiple sclerosis’ painful symptoms. Research done on some patients with pain muscle contractions proved that only marijuana had positive effects on the pain while other available drugs did not bring positive changes to ease the pain of these patients (Mason et al. 39). Moreover, it has an enormous support from the people who have realized that it reduces the side effects after being treated for hepatitis C and boosts treatment effectiveness. These side effects include but not limited to appetite loss and muscle aches (Earleywine 26).

People have been convinced by the research that cannabis provides treatment of inflammatory bowel illnesses. Such diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The drug reduces the discomfort of arthritis, which has made some people support its legalization. In addition, the drug alleviates pain and minimizes inflammation. The substance also promotes sleep, which relieves pain in persons who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (Mason et al. 33).

In the recent years, medical researchers have concluded that the drug assists in metabolism, helping one to control the body shape. The research shows that the users of this substance are thinner than the common people who are not using it. Marijuana also contributes to a healthier metabolism. Finally, users also have perfect reactions to all sugars (Earleywine 35).

The fact that cannabis has been found to be improving the Lupus symptoms has attracted the attention of the general public to push for its legalization. Marijuana is being employed in the treatment of this autoimmune disease. There are chemicals present in the substance that have a calming outcome on the human immune system (Barcott 31).

Furthermore, from the medical perspective, marijuana seems to have various positive effects on one’s mental condition. These effects mostly regard the increasing creativity. Though research shows that short-term memory tends to function poorly while under the influence of drugs, tests show that cannabis helps one to come up with fresh ideas. A research conducted indicated that the interviewees who were under the influence of the drug would describe the same concept with diverse words (Wilson 41).

However, a reduction in the percentage was also evident, especially in the number of the Republicans who claimed that there is another, less dangerous kind of medicines than marijuana that would offer treatment and similar positive effects, including pain relief. They also claim and caution that there is a lack of consistent and repeatable scientific facts concerning the drug to prove it is beneficial (Mason et al. 41). Several people support their decision not to back the use of the substance claiming that research shows that marijuana has damaging effects on the lungs and other body parts like the heart and the brain. The substance impairs learning and interferes with one’s memory and judgment. Formal research has also indicated that it contains some compounds that would cause cancer. The most compelling distress of this substance is that it can lead to increased rates of HIV/AIDS infections. People under the influence of the substance may find it difficult to control themselves while indulging in sexual activities. In addition, they may find difficulties in taking preventive measures of controlling themselves from contracting the deadly disease while engaging in sexual activities (Barcott 49).

Conclusion

Various methods in determining whether the public opinion matters show that congruence of the opinion and the policy does happen. There is always a tendency for the policy of the public to be in utmost accordance with the opinion of the public. However, a strict correspondent is not present, that is, a correspondent between the opinion of the public concerning an issue and the actions of the relevant authorities like government.

The high number of people supporting it has made several states consider relaxing their stands against the substance. Recent research has indicated that at least four American states and Columbia District have made recreational use of the substance legal. Although the federal law rules out the use of marijuana, various states’ presidential candidates have used the initiative and promised to allow the public to set the rules that would see marijuana decriminalized but not legalized.

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