White evangelical Protestants strongly oppose marijuana, other Christians more divided: U.S. poll

Washington — American views on marijuana are evolving much like their views on gay marriage, according to a new poll, with many people ambivalent but growing numbers in favor of legalization.

The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, found that 45 percent of those surveyed support the legalization of pot, compared to 49 percent who don’t. As with the gay marriage debate, older Americans and white evangelical Protestants are most opposed.

But generally, Americans don’t seem to have a moral problem with the growing pot legalization movement, which won referenda in Colorado and Washington state last November, and is gathering significant strength in at least seven other states. Fewer than one in four Americans (23 percent) think using marijuana is a sin, according to the PRRI poll, conducted between April 17 and 21.

One in three (35 percent) say the new liberalized laws are signs of moral decline in America.

“The only folks who embrace that idea are white evangelical Protestants. That’s a minority view,” said PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox, who noted that six in 10 reject the idea.