A Pew Research Center survey of nearly 8,000 police officers finds that more than two-thirds of them say that marijuana use should be legal for either personal or medical use.
The nationally representative survey of law enforcement, one of the largest of its kind, found that 32 percent of police officers said marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 37 percent said it should be legal for medical use only. Another 30 percent said that marijuana should not be legal at all.
Police are more conservative than the general public on the issue. Among all Americans, Pew found that 49 percent supported recreational marijuana, 35 percent supported medical marijuana only, and 15 percent said the drug should not be legal.
Pew also found a generational divide among cops on the marijuana issue, although not as large as the one that exists among the general public. Officers under age 35 were more likely to support recreational marijuana (37 percent) than those between the ages of 50 and 60 (27 percent). Among the general public, those numbers stand at 67 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
Law enforcement groups have often been among the staunchest opponents of marijuana legalization measures. In 2016, such groups made small but significant contributions to oppose legalization measures in California and Arizona, citing concerns over issues like underage use and intoxicated driving.
“You hear people say it’s not as bad as alcohol,” George Hofstetter, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, told the Orange County Register last year. “But if you smoke marijuana and drive, it does impair you.”
The Pew Research Center National Survey of Law Enforcement Officers was conducted online May 19-Aug. 14, 2016 among a national sample of 7,917 police officers in local police and sheriff departments with at least 100