The Surprising Group That Opposes Marijuana Legalization

April 17th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

Roughly one in 10 users of marijuana oppose legalizing the plant for recreational purposes, according to a new Yahoo/Marist College survey.


The survey, which asked more than 1,100 Americans to weigh in on an assortment of cannabis-related issues, demonstrates that public opinion has shifted in favor of loosening laws on marijuana. But there are holdouts, and marijuana users are the most surprising among them.


Many have speculated about the reasons behind this seemingly counterintuitive opposition. Maybe these users don't trust the government to effectively regulate cannabis sales, for example, or perhaps they don't trust others to use the plant responsibly. The survey didn't ask respondents to expand on their rationale, so there's no way to say for sure; what we do know is this isn't the first time we've seen pro-marijuana, anti-legalization sentiment.

Though it might seem like this group is working against its own self-interest, certain users might feel the opposite.

Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, told ATTN: that some pot users "might be making money in the illegal unregulated market and have a perverse interest in continuing criminalization and the profit margin inflation it brings."

"These viewpoints are wrongheaded," Angell said, "and there’s absolutely no reason someone who has so far been able to get away with consuming cannabis without being caught should support the continued enforcement of nakedly racist marijuana prohibition policies that ruin too many other people’s lives every single day."


It's also possible this group has been influenced by legalization skeptics operating in legal medical marijuana markets, as The Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham suggested.

During the November 2016 election, those campaigning against recreational legalization measures in California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts called attention to policy divides in the marijuana community. A vocal cohort of growers and medical marijuana professionals urged voters to reject legalization measures they felt would enrich a handful of cannabis tycoons at the expense of small businesses and patients.

Such concerns may, in some cases, be self-interested — those with established medical businesses have an interest in protecting their profits — but fear of corporate weed no doubt informs some marijuana users' opposition to legalization.