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New CNN poll says a majority of Americans support cannabis legalization

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Echoing the results of a Gallup Poll from last October, a new CNN/ ORC International survey released on Monday says that a majority of Americans now support cannabis legalization.

According to the CNN Poll, “Fifty-five percent of those questioned nationally said marijuana should be made legal, with 44% disagreeing.”

The response was similar to the results of the Gallup Poll from October, in which 58 percent of respondents said they supported legalizing the drug. That 10 percent surge in just one year marked the first time a Gallup Poll showed a majority of Americans in favor of legalization.

Although support for legalization is rising -- thanks in part to successful campaigns in Colorado and Washington to legalize small amounts of marijuana -- CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said that “There are big differences on age, region, party ID, and gender, with senior citizens, Republicans, and Southerners the only major demographic groups who still oppose the legal use of pot.”

Indeed, the dramatic shift in attitudes over the past quarter century largely hinge on generational acceptance. CNN reported that “Two-thirds of those 18 to 34 said marijuana should be legal.” Among those 65 and older, support plummets to just 39 percent .

Support also varied widely based on political affiliation, with “62 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Independents” saying they supported legalization, a figure that stands at just 36 percent among Republicans.

Interestingly, CNN says that “The biggest change indicated by the poll reflected the number of people who said smoking pot is morally wrong.” 70 percent of Americans polled in 1987 said that marijuana use was “morally wrong,” a figure higher than abortion or pornography at the time. Today, the view that pot use is immoral is shared by just 35 percent.

According to CNN, the “poll was conducted by ORC International, from January 3-5, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.”

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