The nation is going to pot – literally. Nearly six-in-10 respondents in a recent survey, or 58 percent, said federal lawmakers ought to legalize marijuana.
That’s the highest number in 46 years of polling on the question, albeit a tie with the 2013 figure, Gallup said.
When Gallup first asked Americans what they thought of legalizing pot – back in 1969 – only 12 percent favored a national law giving the right to smoke. In 1985, about 23 percent said yes to legalizing; in 2000 and 2001, that figure rose to 33 percent.
“The higher level of support comes as many states and localities are changing, or considering changing, their laws on marijuana. So far, four states and the District of Columbia have made recreational use of marijuana legal, and Ohio voters are set to decide a ballot initiative that would do the same this coming Election Day,” Gallup reported. “The topic has been an issue on the 2016 presidential campaign trail, and several candidates have expressed a willingness to let states set their own marijuana laws even though federal law prohibits marijuana use.”
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By far, those in the 18-to-34-year-old range give the biggest support to legalized marijuana. In 1969, fully 20 percent of that age group gave the thumbs-up to pro-pot bills; in 2015, that number rose to 71 percent.
The lowest levels of support come from those aged 65 or higher. But even that age group has grown its level of support over the years. In 1969, only 4 percent of the senior-age sect were okay with legalized marijuana. Now, in 2015, fully 35 percent say they’re fine with legalized pot.
“These patterns by age indicate that one reason Americans are more likely to support legal marijuana today than they were in the past is because newer generations of adults, who are much more inclined to favor use of the drug, are replacing older generations in the population who were much less inclined to want it to be legalized,” Gallup said.
Gallup conducted the survey October 7 through 11, via a random sample of 1,015 adults living in the United States.