According to USA Today on Wednesday, since November 2012, support has jumped 10 percentage points, with 58% calling for legalization of marijuana, Gallup announced Tuesday. Opposition fell to 39%, led by Republicans and older Americans.
Perhaps sensing the size of the shift in public opinion, the Obama administration announced in August it would allow such states to continue their experiment with legalization—marijuana is still illegal under federal law—as long as they follow certain guidelines.
Americans 65 and older are the only age group that still object to making the drug legal. But support among that group has nonetheless jumped 14 percentage points in the past two years.
Support for legalization is strongest among Americans 18 to 29 years old — 67% — and Democrats — 65%. Independents showed the most movement in the past year, with 62% favoring legalization in the latest poll compared with 50% in 2012. Only 35% of Republicans approve.
Whatever the reasons for Americans' greater acceptance of marijuana, it is likely that this momentum will spur further legalization efforts across the United States. Advocates of legalizing marijuana say taxing and regulating the drug could be financially beneficial to states and municipalities nationwide.
It has been a long path toward majority acceptance of marijuana over the past 44 years, but Americans' support for legalization accelerated as the new millennium began. This acceptance of a substance that most people might have considered forbidden in the late 1960s and 1970s may be attributed to changing social mores and growing social acceptance. The increasing prevalence of medical marijuana as a socially acceptable way to alleviate symptoms of diseases such as arthritis, and as a way to mitigate side effects of chemotherapy, may have also contributed to Americans' growing support.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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