The majority of Americans are reluctant to favor the complete legalization of marijuana for any purpose, despite efforts to liberalize marijuana laws in states across the country, according to a new AP-CNBC poll. Fifty-five percent of the people surveyed said they oppose complete legalization, while one-third of the country is in favor of the idea. (Read all the poll results here.)
Americans’ reluctance to legalize the drug is only marginally tempered by the presumed economic benefits of legalization—an argument being increasingly used by marijuana proponents in cash-starved states. Just 14 percent of the respondents that originally opposed legalization said they would reconsider if the drug was taxed and the money aided state programs and services.
As for the ability of marijuana to improve the economy (as some online voters had suggested to President Obama when he conducted his first cyber “Town Hall” shortly after taking office), a majority of Americans (46 percent) believe legalized pot sales would have no effect on the economy, though roughly one-third of the population disagrees, saying marijuana would make the economy better. And the majority of those polled said marijuana would have no effect on the number of jobs in their communities.
That said, a good number of people see revenue possibilities. Assuming the sale and possession of marijuana were actually legal, 62 percent of the 1,001 people surveyed by telephone in the early April poll favored taxing sales of the drug. Twenty-eight percent opposed.
But the country apparently favors a low tax rate. The majority of respondents felt that a rate somewhere between 10 percent and 25 percent would be appropriate.
Perhaps speaking to the public’s general mistrust of government, more than half the country (54 percent) would prefer marijuana, if legalized, be sold by private businesses, while 36 percent would rather see the government handle it, based on the poll results.