Poll: Majority of Americans want cannabis convictions to be expunged

Poll: Majority of Americans want cannabis convictions to be expunged

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, the YouGov survey was published. Described as “a hybrid of a traditional opinion survey and an exercise in big data analysis,” the data showed that seven in 10 Americans support non-violent cannabis conviction expungement.

Involving 7,141 participants, the YouGov survey, asked U.S.-based adult respondents whether or not they “support or oppose expunging cannabis-related convictions for non-violent offenders?”

The team of researchers responsible for carrying out this data analysis say that most respondents from each surveyed demographic including age, gender, income level, political ideologies and regions of the U.S. support expungement.

Specifically, the findings showed that 70 percent of respondents back the policy. Meanwhile, 46 percent strongly support the expunging of non-violent cannabis convictions. 

More Democrats support non-violent cannabis conviction expungement than Republicans 

A whopping 80 percent of Democrats support cannabis conviction expungement, according to the YouGov survey, which also revealed that 57 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats back the idea. 

In terms of support in different geographical regions, the vast majority of people who would like to see non-violent records expunged are located in the Midwest and Northeast – both of these regions equally snagged 72 percent of support. Southerners demonstrated the lowest level of support, with 69 percent of respondents supporting cannabis conviction expungement.

These survey results have surfaced just a couple of months since voters approved cannabis legalization measures a mix of medical and recreational in five U.S. states. While the results may indicate strong Democratic support for the policy change, President-elect Joe Biden has only shown a small amount of interest towards policy reform by supporting the decriminalization of possession and expungement of previous cannabis convictions.

Nonetheless, a bill to federally legalize the plant was approved by the Democratic-steered House on Friday, December 4 with a vote of 228-164; indicating progress on the subject of cannabis reform.

Four-in-ten U.S. drug arrests were for cannabis offenses in 2018

Police officers operating across the United States continue to make more arrests for cannabis-related offenses than for any other narcotic. In most cases, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), individuals are usually caught in possession of the plant.

Based on data published by the FBI, police officers carried out approximately 663,000 arrests for cannabis-related offenses recorded across 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2018. This meant that cannabis-related cases constituted 40 percent of total drug arrests for that year, when police officers in the U.S. arrested 1.65 million drug offenders. 

“Other” drugs (29 percent) made up the second-largest category of drug arrests in 2018. Trailing just behind (25 percent) was heroin, cocaine or their derivatives, and synthetic or manufactured drugs (six percent). State and local law enforcement agencies responsible for carrying out such arrests provided this data to the FBI.