Hispanics Less in Favor of Pot Legalization Than Other Groups, Study Finds

During the upcoming midterm elections, Hispanic voters are likely to be key in many races across the country -- but could they slow the move toward broader marijuana legalization? That possibility is among the takeaways from a Pew Research Center study looking at Latino voting trends. PRC found that Hispanics are less likely than white or black voters to favor such policies. Details, graphics and the complete report below.

See also: Marijuana Poll Showing Unhappiness Over Legalization Embraced by Anti-Pot Activists

The report, entitled "Latino Voters and the 2014 Midterm Elections," notes that proposals to legalize marijuana for recreational use are on ballots in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia, with medical-marijuana measures up for voting in Florida and Guam. Such votes are important, say cannabis-reform advocates such as the Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell, because positive results are likely to lead to a tipping point that would cause the federal government to alter pot policies for the country as a whole.

However, many Hispanic voters seem less than enthusiastic about such a prospect. The report found that 49 percent of registered Latino voters are pro-legalization, while 48 percent feel otherwise. This digits contrast with the views of the electorate as a whole, which supports legalization by a 53-44 percent margin. Here's a graphic from the report depicting this difference....

...and another that contrasts Hispanics with white and black voters, both of whom back legalization by greater percentages. Note also that Hispanics native to the United States are much more likely to feel that legalization is a good idea than are those who were born elsewhere: The responses differed depending on whether interviewees were asked about recreational versus medical use. Here's an excerpt:
About eight-in-ten Hispanic registered voters (81%) say it should be legal in some form, with 47% supporting medicinal legalization only and 34% supporting legalization for personal use as well. Similar shares of white (81%) and black (84%) registered voters support legalization with 43% of whites and 41% of blacks favoring legalization for personal use, while 38% of whites and 43% of blacks favor legalization of marijuana only for medicinal use.
Another interesting aspect of the study: Researchers found that Hispanics are less likely than either whites or blacks to say that they've used marijuana, with only 41 percent of registered Latino voters, and 33 percent of Hispanics as a whole, confirming that they've tried it. In contrast, 50 percent of whites and 49 percent of blacks say they've smoked it.

Could the lukewarm support for legalization be connected to a lack of personal familiarity with marijuana? Or do the numbers imply that Hispanics as a whole, and those not born here in particular, are reticent to express their support for cannabis legalization due to the way the feds have used pot as a rationale for deportation? The study doesn't take a position on such questions, but the data is available for those more willing to do so. Dig in below; the marijuana section begins on page eighteen.

Latino Voters and the 2014 Midterm Elections.pdf

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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