Marijuana Legalization or Criminalization: Attributes That Elicit Pro and Con Positions on Marijuana Legalization

Administrator October 19, 2011 3

INTRODUCTION

The drug culture and government regulatory policies in The United States have been inconsistent, to say the least. Musto (2002) suggests that there is a long cultural history of drugs that is often overlooked in emerging reformations. Regulations to prohibit or legalize drugs are not new; instead they surface, submerge, and resurface along a social continuum. Public opinion and regulatory interventions have been historically based upon five approaches: prohibition, harm reduction, medicalization, legalization, and decriminalization (McBride et al. 2009). Although specific eras can be identified by one general approach, such as prohibition during “the war on drugs,” there is a fluidity of approaches that ignite controversy and variation in every era. Perhaps the best modern example is with marijuana policies. The state repeal of prohibition laws to permit medicinal marijuana conflicts with federal policies which classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug; indicating a high potential for abuse, no current medical purpose, and “lack of accepted safety” (http://www.justice.gov/dea/concern/marijuana.html). Attitudes toward marijuana are not universal; many citizens and state governments do not accept the federal criminalization of marijuana use.

While the drug debate extends beyond any single substance, the current cultural and political climate is largely focused on marijuana. In previous years there was an emphasis on the medicalization approach to marijuana. In the early 1990’s, some 35 states (or parts thereof) ratified some form of legislation authorizing medicinal marijuana (Harrison et al. 1999). The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) claims that 16 states, many in the pacific region, have initiated medical marijuana programs since 1996. Legislation has attempted and failed to federally classify marijuana as having medicinal value (Harrison et al. 1999). Medicalization is still an important area of contention, but a more liberal approach is on the rise. This is the legalization and regulation of marijuana versus the continued illegalization and criminalization. The states and federal governments are divided on the legalization of marijuana and even the American public is split on what to do with this issue.  This debate will only intensify in California where a ballot initiative to repeal marijuana criminalization is forthcoming.

Various public polls have shown a trend toward decriminalization and even legalization. According to the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS), nearly forty percent of adults claimed that marijuana should be legalized. In the same survey in 1987 only sixteen percent of respondents were in favor of legalization, the lowest since the GSS began asking this question in 1973. Similarly, the October 2009 Gallup Crime Poll (a survey of 1,013. national adults) found that forty-four percent of Americans favored the legalization of marijuana. This percentage was up from thirty-one percent in 2000 and has consistently increased throughout the decade. State level and local polls have yielded even higher percentages in favor of legalization. The GSS data graph below reveals this upward trend by the American public to legalize marijuana.

Picture 1 300x109 Marijuana Legalization or Criminalization: Attributes That Elicit Pro and Con Positions on Marijuana Legalization

The purpose of this paper is to explore variables that may be identified as predictors for or against the legalization of marijuana policies. There are limitations to this research because the survey used only asks the dichotomous question “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?” This type of survey question is too ambiguous which can discredit the results. The data can be biased one way or another depending on how people interpret the terms “legal” and “illegal.” For example, some people may think marijuana should be legal for medicinal use only. Some people who think marijuana should be illegal may agree with medicinal use as well. The extent to which something should be criminalized (i.e. mandatory jail sentence) or legalized (i.e. zero government regulation) is another key limitation. Nevertheless, the dichotomy creates a general attitude or way of thinking about marijuana policies. This paper will examine the stratification and social location of respondents for marijuana legalization versus those against legalization.

This paper will first review the literature that focuses on marijuana, drug policies, and its relation to individual attributes and attitudes. The literature reviewed will help lay the foundation for research hypotheses. The second part will describe the data and methods used for this research. The third part will discuss the findings related to the results. The final component will conclude with a brief summary with suggestions for future research.

LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESIS

The majority of research about marijuana has focused on its use, primarily stemming from the field of psychiatry, clinical psychology, and biomedical disciplines (Pedersen 2009:136). Much of this research focuses on harmful effects, medicinal use, and psychological reactions. The sociological literature on marijuana emphasizes a criminology point of view and drug policy discourse. The latter tends to investigate the deviant behaviors of marijuana users and its criminality. Some of this literature also identifies attributes and attitudes relative to marijuana use (Khatapoush and Hallfors 2004; Clayton and Leukefeld 1992; Bearden and Woodside 1978). This research focuses on pro and anti legalization stands. It is important not to equate this with propensity toward its use. At the same time, literature on the use of marijuana can provide valuable inferences to positions on legalization. A position on this issue almost naturally implies a value judgment on the use of marijuana. The brief literature that directly addresses pro and anti legalization will also be examined.

Age

The 1960’s and 70’s has been referred to as a generation of revolution. Adolescents of the “baby boomer” era (those born between 1946 and 1964) in general participated in liberal practices, an anti-establishment mindset, and experimental or recreational drug use. During this period there was an increase in the use of a variety of drug substances. Policy makers and media figures even called for marijuana legalization (McBride et al. 2009:73). Coming of age during this era has surly created a more positive attitude toward marijuana legalization.

Conversely, the 1980’s has been associated with the criminalization of marijuana and drugs, denoted by President Reagan’s war on drugs (McBride et al. 2009:73). Those born from 1965 to 1975 would have been adolescents around this strict enforcement period. Illicit drug use was never significantly lower during the Reagan era (p. 74), but drugs became more socially and legally stigmatized. The effects of stigmatization may have impacted the general attitude during that era but it is unlikely that the criminalization attitude was deeply internalized. Polls have shown that the same proportion (around 45 percent) of 18 to 29 year olds and 30 to 49 year olds have used marijuana, although the number falls dramatically for older Americans (Paul 2003). This may suggest that old age persons, presumably those growing up before the 1960’s, may identify with a criminalization attitude. As Sloman (1979) claims, the “reefer madness” era of the 1930’s and 40’s, defined marijuana as an “object of national scorn and fear” (p. 35). Older Americans lived in an age where marijuana was continually associated to crime, addiction, and psychopathic behaviors.

During the 1950’s and 60’s, new social constructs made marijuana use more acceptable than the conventional negative attitudes characterized by the previous era (Goode 1969). Marijuana became associated with hip counterculture and was tied to sexual and other forms of liberation (p. 85). The use of marijuana is still frequently associated with subcultures, college students, and a youthful hang loose ethic (Pedersen 2009). While use does not always entail a position on legalization, it would only be logical that these associations would equate to a more pro-legalization position. Because subcultures and college students are usually composed of young adults, there is probably a correlation between youthfulness and pro-legalization. A 2009 Gallup Poll claimed that young adults are more likely to support marijuana legalization. This conclusion supports the two diametrically opposed positions, the young liberal attitude versus the old conservative attitude.

Hypothesis 1: Younger respondents (18-25) are far more likely to support marijuana legalization than older respondents. The older the respondent is the more likely they will support marijuana criminalization.

 

Sex/Gender

While sex and gender previously  impacted a position on marijuana legalization, it is less relevant, or even irrelevant, in recent years. Based on previous opinion polls, Saad (2009) claims that in 2005 males favored legalization more than females (41% to 32%), and in 2009, males and females almost equally favored legalization (45% to 44%). While this trend is generally supported by previous years of the GSS, other research claims a significant difference in sex. In Pamela Paul’s (2003) review of previous polls, she claims that “women, especially black women, are more likely than men to believe that possessing pot should be a crime” (p. 18).

Hypothesis 2: Women are more likely than men to not support marijuana legalization.

 

Region

In addition to the simple question of legalization, the Gallup Poll asked people if they would support marijuana if it brought in local and/or state revenue. While the data may have identified an economic legalization pattern, the poll also found that the responses varied based upon region or state of residency. In the west, fifty-three percent were in favor of the economic regulation followed by the east with forty-four percent. The mid-western and southern states were less in favor of economic regulation with about thirty-six percent against it. The economic argument for legalization is perhaps the most influential in the debate (Warner 1991). The GSS should uphold these conclusions despite no question about taxation and regulation.

Hypothesis 3: Respondents interviewed in the Central and South Atlantic region of the United States are more likely to not support marijuana legalization than those interviewed in the Pacific-Mountain and North Atlantic region.

 

Education and Parents Education

Pedersen’s (2009) research on the Norwegian population suggests some stratification among users and non users based on education. He claims that a parent’s “poor educational attainment” correlates to a child’s greater propensity to use marijuana (147). Pedersen also makes the claim that in Norway, college students and graduates are more likely to oppose marijuana legalization, whereas in the United States it is the opposite; higher education is associated with liberal values and a propensity to support legalization. College students are more likely to smoke marijuana and support a legalization policy than non-college students (Goode 1970).  Because parents are largely responsible for socializing their children, it logically follows that the higher a parent’s educational level the more likely the respondent will favor legalization. Furthermore, higher educational attainment supports a liberal and middle class value system that stresses a more democratic philosophical position related to authority versus conformity to the law in lower class families (Kohn 1989).

Hypothesis 4: Respondents with higher levels of education and whose parents have higher education are more likely to support marijuana legalization.

 

Political Party Affiliation and Political View

Erich Goode (1969) suggests that the topic of marijuana legalization and its use is beyond the realm of empirical scientific investigation. Persons and/or groups with opposing views often cite the same affects to frame whether drugs are “good” or “bad.” Goode suggests that attitudes toward marijuana use and legalization are based upon the individual’s social construct of reality. While both stances often rely on “empirical” evidence, their points of view rely on pre-determined ideological considerations and attitudes toward related issues (88). Therefore, “marijuana can be thought of as a kind of symbol for a complex of other positions, beliefs and activities” (92). This statement is most generally supported by political party identification and ideology. The Gallup Crime Poll (ninety-five percent confident that the results are within four percentage points) estimates that self-identified liberals support legalization the most with seventy-eight percent in favor, followed by moderates with forty-six percent, and conservatives with twenty-seven percent. Democrats and Independents are nearly split on the issue, and twenty-eight percent of Republicans are in favor of legalization.

Hypothesis 5: Democrats are more likely to support legalization than Republicans. Independents will not be a significant predictor on any position. Hypothesis 6: Liberals are more likely to support legalization than conservatives and moderates.

 

Confidence in U.S. Courts and Legal System

The study of criminal law (i.e. marijuana laws) is deeply involved with the factors that provide the impetus for criminalization. These include social location of moral entrepreneurs and “experts”, inciting events, interest groups, politics, organized social movements, and diverse structural conditions (Jenness 2004:148). The factors that relate to criminalization inversely relate to factors of legalization. How the individual perceives the role of government and how confident the individual is in legal institutions correlated with a particular position on marijuana legalization.

Hypothesis 7: Those who support legalization are more likely to have less confidence in courts and legal systems than those who do support continued criminalization.

 

DATA AND METHODS

The data analyzed for this paper originated from The National Data Program for the Social Sciences and was used to assess the social location of pro and anti marijuana legalization respondents. The data collection instrument was the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS) which records basic demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral characteristics of a random quota sample of United States residents age 18 and older. The survey is conducted via face-to-face interview by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The 2008 GSS sample contained over 2500 cases but a sample of 805 cases were used for this research; incomplete cases for the assessed variables were removed.

Dependent Variable

The dependent variable used for this study was measured by the question: “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?” Response categories were dichotomized as “legal” or “not legal.” Sixty percent responded “not legal.”

Independent Variables

The independent variables analyzed were: age, sex, region, education and parent’s education, political party affiliation and political view, and confidence in courts and the legal system. The mean age of respondents was 47 years with a standard deviation of 16.4 years. The gender breakdown was 54.3% female and 45.7% percent male. The location of interview was grouped into four regions[1]: the Pacific-Mountain region (28%), Central (36.4%), South Atlantic (19.2%), and North Atlantic (16.4%). Respondent’s educational attainment was in formal years of schooling (m= 13.93, s.d.= 2.9). Mother’s education (m= 11.7, s.d.= 3.6) and father’s education (m= 11.67, s.d.= 4.2) was also in formal years of schooling. Political party affiliation grouped strong and not so strong Democrats (34.4%), strong and not so strong Republicans (30.7%) and all Independents (33.9%). Political view was grouped as conservative (35.8%), moderate (37%), and liberal (27.2%). Confidence in courts and the legal system was based on a scale of one, no confidence at all, through five, complete confidence (m= 3.01, s.d.= 0.86).

No control variables are used because the research aimed at locating respondents based on their attitude toward marijuana legalization regardless of the effect of other variables.

The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to run various models testing the correlations and statistical significance between hypothesized variables. The primary model utilized was a logistic regression, as the dichotomous dependent variable was being analyzed with categorical and scale independent variables. With this model, significant levels were divided in half as the hypotheses tested were directional. The Hosmer and Lemeshow Test was insignificant at .798 which proved that the data was a good fit for logistic regression. Pearson’s R, which can also express a point-biserial correlation, was used to measure the regression correlation in a model combining the most significant independent variables. Variables were tested for statistical significance at p<.05 and p<.01. Cross tabulations (results in appendix) are used in the discussion to demonstrate some general polling trends.

RESULTS

Several of the hypotheses were directionally correct but the coefficients failed to reach significance and hold any predictive power. The first hypothesis on age was not supported. Age (.001, p>.05) is not a good predictor as to whether an individual will decide “legal” or “not legal” on marijuana law reform. The B value is only .001, which would cause no unit increase for a particular age to feel one way or the other.

The second hypothesis, that females are more likely than males to not support marijuana legalization, was upheld. Being female (-.347, p<.05) is a moderate predictor for an attitude toward marijuana legalization. The data showed that females are significantly more likely to advocate against legalization.

The South Atlantic (-.325, p>.05) and Central (-.355, p<.05) region were more likely to not support legalization than the Pacific-Mountain and North Atlantic (-.029, p>.05) regions. While the hypothesis was generally correct, only the Central region in this model was a significant predictor for not supporting marijuana legalization. In a separate model, the Pacific-Mountain (.347, p<.05) region had significant results similar to the Central region but with the opposite trend, supporting legalization.

Hypothesis four was not supported in its entirety. The respondent’s years of education (-.017, p>.05) and their mother’s years of education (-.045, p>.05) were not significant predictors for supporting or not supporting marijuana legalization. However, the respondent’s father’s years of education (-.093, p<.01) was a significant factor in an attitude toward legalization. As years of father’s education increases the more likely the respondent favored legalization. Father’s education was analyzed in another model described below.

Political party identification and political view produced interesting results and a unique dichotomy between identification and view. The hypothesis on political party identification was generally supported, Republicans (.155, p>.05) are more likely to not support legalization than Democrats (.778, p>.05). However, all party identifications were not a significant predictor for an attitude on legalization. Political views on the other hand, was a significant predictor. Liberals (.889, p<.01) were most likely to support legalization followed by moderates (.611, p<.01), and then conservatives. This reveals that political views influence an attitude toward legalization more than any singular party identification. Conservative views (-1, p<.01), which was run in a separate regression model, was a near perfect predictor for a “not legal” opinion on marijuana legalization.

The last hypothesis on confidence in courts and the legal system (.354, p<.01) was supported and was a significant predictor for an attitude on marijuana legalization. Respondent’s who had high confidence in the courts and legal systems were most likely to agree that marijuana should remain illegal.  Respondents with lower confidence in the courts and the legal system were less likely to think marijuana should remain illegal.

A model was constructed with the strongest predictive power for the dependent variable of “legal” or “not legal” attitudes toward marijuana law. The most predictive independent variables were father’s education, conservative view, and a person’s confidence in the U.S. courts and the legal system. This model had a Pearson’s R of .330 and was significant at p<.01 level. The higher the education of the respondent’s father, the more likely the respondent supported marijuana legalization. If the respondent had conservative views, the more likely they were to support marijuana criminalization. The more confidence an individual had in the current U.S. court system, the more likely they were to support continued marijuana criminalization.

 

DISCUSSION

This research aims to tackle the question of what makes a person more likely to support or not support the legalization of marijuana. The data was analyzed and the results illustrated some significant factors which may predict a person’s position on the legalization of marijuana. Other factors tended to show trends but were not significant predictors; some results will be discussed with descriptive statistics. This document will interpret the findings of this research in relation to previous literature and conceived hypotheses.

Age

A difference in age is not a great predictor of attitudes toward marijuana legalization. It was hypothesized that younger people would support legalization more than older people. The literature has equated marijuana use to young college students and youth cultures (Pederson 2009). This hypothesis did not hold true. In fact, for young adults, age group (18 to 25), they were less likely to support legalization than people aged 26 to 65. One possibility for this is the apprehension that youth’s face when disseminating information that violates laws and social norms. Another reason could be that the youth who support legalization were not available for surveys. The age group 36 to 45 most accurately represents the mean attitudes toward marijuana legalization.

The hypothesis that the older a person’s age the more likely they are to have a criminalization attitude toward marijuana was not entirely false. The graph below shows that respondents age 66 and older were more likely to respond “not legal” than the other age groupings. People 66 and older would have been coming of age in the booming 50’s before the cultural changes of the 60’s that have been associated with liberalized views on marijuana.

Picture 2 300x143 Marijuana Legalization or Criminalization: Attributes That Elicit Pro and Con Positions on Marijuana Legalization

Sex/Gender

The findings of this research suggest that being male or female significantly impact an attitude toward marijuana legalization. Various polls reveal that males and females are equal in their position on marijuana. This is also true for marijuana use, where there is a gender convergence, as male usage rates have decreased and female rates have increased (Saieva 2008). Literature on various topics have suggested a shortening of the gender gap and lessening of gender inequality as a prominent dynamic of society. Nevertheless, gender/sex was a significant factor towards a position on marijuana legalization. Females are more likely than males to have a criminalization attitude toward marijuana.

Marijuana Attitude: Legal Not Legal
Sex
Male 43.2% (159) 56.8% (209)
Female 37.3% (163) 62.7% (274)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Males are more likely to be users of marijuana and other illicit substances than females (Agrawal and Lynskey 2007). Because males are more likely to be users and thus are more likely to be prosecuted for possession, they may be more in favor the decriminalization of marijuana. As Agrawal and Lynskey note in their review of the literature, females are usually the caregivers and stabilizing components of families and are likely to perceive illicit substance abuse as dangerous. Because decriminalization has been associated with greater use, especially in youth (Clayton and Leukefeld 1992), females may perceive legalization as a threat to their caretaking responsibilities. Further research is needed to understand the gender differences in attitudes toward marijuana.

 

Region

The Central region was a significant predictor for a position on marijuana legalization followed by the South Atlantic region. These regions moderately opposed marijuana legalization, with approximately 60 percent favoring a “not legal” position. The Pacific-Mountain and North Atlantic regions were not significant predictors because responses were more evenly divided between “legal” and “not legal” responses. This finding affirms previous research and polls on drug legalization.

One possible explanation or relationship for the regional division of marijuana positions is the state level differences in laws and policies. The Pacific Mountain region includes nine of the sixteen states with laws favorable toward medical marijuana. The smaller North Atlantic region includes five of those states with favorable laws/policies toward medical marijuana (http://www.drugpolicy.org/marijuana/medical/). The differences in state level laws/policies could relate to differences in its constituents. The state level policies may also influence a pro or anti attitude toward marijuana in general.

The Central region, which was one of the most significant predictors of a “not legal” position, is a more rural area than the Pacific Coast and North Atlantic communities. Rural residency is closely linked to more politically conservative values and cultural rigidity of what is and what is not acceptable. Urban communities have higher rates of use and acceptance to marijuana than rural communities (Saieva 2008). Further research is needed on regional attitudes toward marijuana, particularly in comparing urban and rural community views.

Education and Parent’s Education

Contrary to previous research, years of educational attainment had no significant impact on a position about marijuana legalization. The higher level of degree earned only showed a small correlation toward favoring legalization (i.e. 40% responded for legalization with a high school degree versus 43% who responding for legalization with a bachelors degree). The popular belief that higher education equates to pro-attitudes on marijuana legalization has been discredited by this data. Research like that of Erich Goode’s which suggests the correlation was done in the 1970’s. Perhaps education has become less politically liberal, at least as an influence on students.

Unlike respondent’s personal level of education, parent’s years of educational attainment had a very significant impact on the respondent’s position. The more years of education by a parent, the more likely their child will favor a legalization policy. This hypothesis was directionally supported for both parents, but father’s educational attainment was most significant.

Picture 3 300x166 Marijuana Legalization or Criminalization: Attributes That Elicit Pro and Con Positions on Marijuana Legalization

No research was found that addressed this phenomenon specifically, but parent’s education level is a definite correlate to child socialization. Kohn (1989) suggests that parent’s education level affects the attitudes of their children. If a parent has a high level of education, the more likely the child will be raised to question the authority of law in relation to their own point of view; perceiving the policy towards marijuana as something to scrutinize rather than something to simply obey.

Political Party Identification and Political View

The hypotheses on political party identification and political view were directionally supported. Democrats were more likely to support legalization than Republicans, and Independents were not strongly opinionated toward either side of the issue. Liberals were far more likely to support legalization than conservatives and moderates. In terms of significance, political view was far more important than political party in correlation to a position on marijuana legalization. While Democrats are affiliated with more liberal attitudes than Republicans, having a liberal political view does not necessarily correlate to Democratic Party identification. If this was the case, an equivalent number of Democrats and liberals would have held legal and not legal positions on marijuana legalization. On the other hand, Republicans and Conservatives had nearly equal positions on marijuana policy.

Political Party ID and View Legal Not Legal

Democrat 46.6% (129)                        53.4% (148)

Liberal 55.7% (122)                        44.3% (97)

Republican 24.7% (61)                        75.3% (186)

Conservative 25.3% (73)                        74.7% (215)

Independent 47.3% (129)                        52.7% (144)

Moderate 42.6% (127)                        57.4% (171)

Contrary to various opinion polls, liberals are not as likely to support legalization as stated. Similar to opinion polls, conservatives are strongly opposed to legalization. As Goode (1969) suggests, attitudes toward marijuana can be attributed to a variety of other attitudes. This statement may generally be supported by “not legal” respondents, but the increased diversity of marijuana users and those with legalization attitudes will most likely decrease its validity. Further research is needed to examine the relationship between marijuana legalization attitudes and political attitudes.

Confidence in U.S. Courts and Legal System

A respondent’s confidence in the U.S. courts and legal system was a significant predictor to a position on marijuana legalization. While most responses to the confidence question fell in the middle, “somewhat confident,” those with more extreme opinionated levels of confidence in either direction were more likely to respond “legal” or “not legal”. If a respondent was very confident in the courts and the legal system, they were more likely to favor a continued policy of criminalization. If a respondent held no confidence in the courts and the legal system, they were more likely to oppose the criminalization of marijuana by taking a legalization position. Making generalizations based on ones feelings about the legal system is often rooted in the perceived justification of what is deemed criminally offensive (Jenness 2005). Those who support marijuana legalization versus those who support its continued criminalization may perceive various criminal offenses, like drug possession, as unjust.

CONCLUSIONS

The arguments for or against legalizing marijuana are growing in the United States. Many citizens are opposed to full legalization, but may be in favor of being able to buy marijuana at a convenience store as you would with cigarettes. There are pros and cons to both positions: the state can control, distribute, and generate revenue from taxes collected while others advocate that legalizing and allowing another hallucinogen into our society will only create harm. Some states have been more aggressive in legislative debates, such as in California. Soon California voters will have the opportunity to go to the voting booth for a marijuana legalization policy that does not require doctor prescription. Because this research deals with whether people think marijuana should be legalized or not, this information will contribute to the body of research for identifying predictors of voting behavior. By identifying voting preferences, pro and anti legalization supporters, including bureaucrats, will be able to more effectively campaign and target individuals to support their particular agenda.

The findings from this research indicated several trends of pro and anti positions on marijuana legalization, but not all were statistically significant. The most significant factors that correlated to a position on marijuana legalization were father’s level of education, respondent’s political view (liberal or conservative), and confidence in U.S. courts and legal system. The higher the education level of the individual’s father, the more likely the son or daughter respondent is to be favorable toward marijuana legalization. Individual who hold conservative political views are much more likely to favor criminalizing marijuana use. The reverse was true for those with liberal political views. The more confidence an individual has in the U.S. court system, the more likely they are to favor the continued criminalization of marijuana. Two other factors emerged as significant but not as measurably significant as the other factors mentioned; these were central region and sex/gender. Responses in the central region were more likely to favor criminalization and females were more likely than males to favor criminalization.

Further research is needed to explain the reasons why people are in favor of legalization or support the continued criminalization of marijuana. While this research proposed various factors that affect attitudes about marijuana policy, it was difficult to offer an explanation due to the lack of research on this topic. One reason for this is that the previous research mostly focused on marijuana use, particularly as a criminal offense, rather than general acceptance or attitude toward a pro or con policy. An important limitation to this research was the degree to which respondents were for or against legalization. Future research should be done on attitudes related to the circumstances that would justify marijuana criminalization and acceptable uses, such as for medical purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

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Jenness, Valerie. 2005. “Explaining Criminalization: From Demography and Status Politics to

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Table 1: Means and Standard Deviations
Variable Mean/Percentage Standard Deviation
Respondent’s Age 47 16.40
Respondent’s Sex (Female) 54.30%
Region of Interview
North Atlantic 16.40%
South Atlantic 19.20%
Central 36.40%
Western 28.00%
Highest Year of School Completed
Respondent 13.93 2.90
Respondent’s Father 11.67 4.20
Respondent’s Mother 11.70 3.60
Political Party Identification
Democrat 34.40%
Republican 30.70%
Independent 33.90%
Political View
Liberal 27.20%
Moderate 37.00%
Conservative 35.80%
Confidence in Courts and Legal System* 3.01 0.86
Should Marijuana be Made Legal? (No, Not Legal) 60.00%

 

*Confidence is measured from (1) “no confidence at all” to (5) “complete confidence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2: Estimates from Logistic Regression Model Predicting a Not Legal Position on Marijuana Legalization.
Variable Model
Respondent’s Age 0.001
(.005)
Respondent’s Sex -0.347*
(.160)
Region of Interview
North Atlantic -0.029
(.242)
South Atlantic -0.325
(.235)
Central -0.355*
(.199)
Highest Year of School Completed
Respondent -0.017
(.033)
Respondent’s Father -0.093**
(.027)
Respondent’s Mother -0.045
(.031)
Political Party Identification
Democrat 0.778
(.794)
Republican 0.155
(.803)
Independent 0.928
(.794)
Political View
Liberal 0.889**
(.236)
Moderate 0.611**
(.207)
Confidence in Courts and Legal System* 0.354**
(.105)
Constant 2.843
(10.402)
-2Log Likelihood 954.514^a
N 805
NOTES: *p ≤ .05, **p ≤ .01.  The reference category for Region is Pacific-Mountain, and the reference category for Political View is Conservative.  Standard errors are in parenthesis.

 

 

Appendix: Table on the general polling trends of marijuana legalization.

Position on Marijuana Legalization
Variables Legal Not Legal
Age
18 to 25 36.1% (26) 63.9% (46)
26 to 35 49.0% (71) 51.0% (74)
36 to 45 39.4% (69) 60.6% (106)
46 to 55 45.2% (75) 54.8% (91)
56 to 65 41.0% (55) 59.0% (79)
66 to 75 26.1% (18) 73.9% (51)
76 plus 21.6% (8) 78.4% (29)
Sex
Male 43.2% (159) 56.8% (209)
Female 37.3% (163) 62.7% (274)
Region
North Atlantic 49.2% (65) 50.8% (67)
South Atlantic 35.5% (55) 64.5% (100)
Central 33.4% (98) 66.6% (195)
Pacific-Mountain 46.2% (104) 53.8% (121)
Political Party ID
Democrat 46.6% (129) 53.4% (148)
Republican 24.7% (61) 75.3% (186)
Independent 47.3% (129) 52.7% (144)
Political View
Liberal 55.7% (122) 44.3% (97)
Moderate 42.6% (127) 57.4% (171)
Conservative 25.3% (73) 74.7% (215)

 


[1] Regions by state: Pacific-Mountain (CA, OR, WA, AK, HI, NV, ID, MT, UT, AZ, WY, CO, NM); Central (ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, MN, IA, MO, AR, LA, MI, OH, IN, KY, TN, MS, AL); South Atlantic (FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, WV, DC, MD, DE); North  Atlantic (NJ, CT, RI, MA, PA, NY, VT, NH, ME).

 

 

3 Comments »

  1. Brandt Hardin October 20, 2011 at 2:23 PM - Reply

    I feel this would be a step in the right direction toward making Pot work to help our damaged economies. Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html Drop in and let me know what you think!

  2. walkamolie April 29, 2013 at 12:38 AM - Reply

    Why the hell isn’t this published in an academic journal? Nice research, man. Respect.

  3. kevin gladward January 21, 2014 at 3:31 PM - Reply

    can i use this for my project…?

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