Last week, President Biden announced his decision to pardon thousands of Americans convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law. While stopping short of decriminalization or legalization, the Biden administration’s move is arguably the most substantial change to federal marijuana policy in U.S. history.
So far, it’s been a popular move. According to a recent CivicScience survey, two-thirds of Americans hold at least a somewhat positive view of the pardon. Adults who hold a ‘very positive’ view of President Biden’s move more than double those with a ‘very negative’ read of the decision (n=2,574).
Although the policy is generally popular among Americans, it cleaves across ideological lines. Two-thirds of CNN and MSNBC viewers hold a ‘very positive’ view of the pardons, while just 11% of Fox News viewers say the same. That said, nearly 1-in-3 Fox News viewers hold at least a somewhat positive opinion of the policy – which is less polarizing than many of President Biden’s positions.
Although President Biden’s pardon for simple possession marks the most forgiving federal cannabis policy to date, a plurality of adults would prefer an even more forgiving approach to the issue. Forty-four percent of Americans would prefer more lenient marijuana laws, while 27% would steer policy in a less forgiving direction.
As the U.S. pursues its most lenient marijuana policy yet at the federal level, 70% of Americans at least somewhat support statewide legalization efforts over the last 30 days. Per CivicScience’s long-running data on marijuana legalization sentiment, the figure is flat from the same period last year.
According to the most up-to-date CivicScience data, 13% of adults over 21 use cannabis products daily – and 34% use them at least occasionally. These are both up a tick from the same period in 2021, with the most change for infrequent users.
President Biden’s decision to pardon thousands of adults with federal marijuana possession convictions is a popular first step toward broader legalization. Although Americans are slightly more divided on how much more forgiving federal marijuana policy should be, a significant group hopes this isn’t the final development.