Although politicians tend to enjoy duking it out over the legalization of marijuana and President Joe Biden has taken a “let the states figure it out” stance on the subject, the subject isn’t exactly controversial in the U.S. Two-thirds of Americans supports legalizing weed, according to the latest Pew numbers on the subject, a number that includes the majority of Protestants and Catholics alike.
It’s a fairly remarkable move from even recent years. In 1969, when Pew first started polling on legalizing weed, just 12 percent of Americans thought marijuana should be legal. Today, that number is at 67 percent. 60 percent of Protestants say it should be legal, along with 53 percent of Catholics. Even evangelicals, normally the most socially conservative faith group in the U.S., slightly tilt towards legalization at just a little over 50 percent.
Every demographic Pew polled had a majority in favor of legalizing weed, including 55 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats, and there is no one reason to explain it. Some experts have highlighted the economic boost states like Colorado have enjoyed since legalizing marijuana in their state, which has incentivized other states like Oregon, California, Washington and New York to follow suit.
Other advocates point towards how much of America’s mass incarceration crisis stems from minor marijuana offenses (four-in-ten drug arrests in 2018 were for weed, mostly possession). Moreover, the racial disparities in the American criminal justice system are rarely more stark than they are when it comes to marijuana. Although Black and white Americans use marijuana at roughly the same rates, Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Still, not every Christian is on board the #legalizeit train. Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, opposes marijuana use. “Most of the young evangelicals I know seek to minister to friends who have been harmed by marijuana culture,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “This isn’t theoretical to them at all.”