Lifestyle & Belief

More Americans favor marijuana legalization than not, poll finds


Medical marijuana patient Kirk Anderson smokes marijuana during a protest outside of the State of California building on July 18, 2011 in San Francisco,


Justin Sullivan

Half of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, according to a new Gallup poll, up from 46 percent last year and — many a U.S. news outlet is pointing out — a "record high."

Forty-six percent of Americans say marijuana — the "most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States," according to National Institute on Drug Abuse — should remain illegal.

According to the survey:

When Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana, in 1969, 12 percent of Americans favored it, while 84 percent were opposed. Support remained in the mid-20s in Gallup measures from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but has crept up since, passing 30 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 2009 before reaching the 50 percent level in this year's Oct. 6-9 annual Crime survey.

"If this current trend on legalizing marijuana continues, pressure may build to bring the nation's laws into compliance with the people's wishes," Gallup said in a statement, the AFP reports.

The LA Times reports that:

The findings come less than six months after the federal government ruled that marijuana should remain classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which means the government considers it as dangerous as heroin.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said that marijuana would remain classified as Schedule 1 as it had "a high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

However, support for legalization has reportedly spiked in the past five years, according to the annual crime survey conducted Oct. 6-9.

Support was strongest among liberals (69 percent), those aged 18 to 29 (62 percent), and those living in the western United States (55 percent), Gallup found.

Least likely to support legalization were those over 65 (31 percent), conservatives (34 percent) and southerners (44 percent).

Also, men were more likely to support legalizing marijuana than women (55 percent vs 46 percent).