Majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, poll says

By Daniel S Levine,

A new poll has found that the majority of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana.

The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, shows that 52 percent of those polled support the legalization of marijuana, while 45 percent are still opposed. When the poll was last taken in 2010, only 45 percent supported legalization.

Pew’s poll shows how America’s view on marijuana has changed drastically over the last four decades. When the poll was taken in 1969, just 12 percent supported legalization, while 84 percent were opposed.

Pew conducted the poll from March 13-17, asking 1,501 adults from all 50 states and Washington, DC about their opinions on marijuana.

Even when you look at age groups separately, public opinion on marijuana use has changed significantly. In 2008, just 36 percent of Millennials (people born after 1980) supported legalization. In the 2013 poll, that jumped to 65 percent. Half of Baby Boomers also support legalization. Generation X members (Americans born from 1965-1980) are also in favor, with 54 percent approving.

Marijuana use is also up, with 48 percent saying they have tried the drug. That’s up from 38 percent a decade ago.

As The Washington Post notes, the poll comes after Washington State and Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana use. But it still remains illegal on the federal level. The poll found that six in 10 Americans believe that marijuana laws are for the states to enforce, not the federal government. Both Republicans and Democrats polled even say that it’s not worth the cost to enforce federal laws.

Other beliefs on marijuana have lost support over the the decades. Only 38 percent believe its use leads to using harder drugs and just 32 percent see smoking it as morally wrong.



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