For first time majority of Americans back marijuana legalization

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, October 23, 2013

The legalization of marijuana for recreational use may be coming sooner than you’d think, as for the first time in history a majority of Americans back the use of the drug for such purposes, according to a new Gallup study released Wednesday.

The study found that 58 percent of Americans back the legalization of cannabis, a far cry from the 12 percent that initially supported it when Gallup first asked the question in 1969 and an increase of 10 percent from last year’s poll. Four in ten Americans oppose the legalization according to the poll.

The biggest change from 2012 was among self-identified independents, with the number of independents supporting the legalization efforts increasing by 12 points over the past 12 months. Support for legalization still falls along partisan lines, however, with Democrats being nearly twice as likely as Republicans to support the legalization efforts.

The results come just months after two states – Washington and Colorado – legalized the recreational use of marijuana. While the drug remains prohibited on the federal level, the Department of Justice announced last month that it would let the laws in the two states stand. Marijuana use in both states became legal through the passage of ballot measures during the November 2012 elections.

In addition, 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Naturally, younger Americans were the most likely to back the legalization efforts, with two in three of them fully supporting the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Just 45 percent of seniors, however, support the movement.

Gallup conducted a nationwide telephone survey of 1,028 adults from October 3-6, 2013. The margin of error for the study is +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. 

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