Smoke up: majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana


A young man smokes marijuana.


Martin Bernetti

The legalization of the most common — and contentious — illegal drug in the US is now supported by the majority of Americans, according to a Gallup poll measuring national attitudes about marijuana. 

The Gallup polling company found that 58 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, an all-time high and a considerable leap from the 50 percent support recorded only two years ago. Only 12 percent supported legalizing marijuana in 1969

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The data found that the only group in the US still opposed to legalizing marijuana is comprised of those 65 and older, while 67 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 support legalizing it.

Independents were considerably more likely to support legalization than Republicans, while Democrats were the most likely to advocate for legalization. 

Gallup theorizes that the legalization of marijuana in two US states may have a hand in the newly-found tolerance measured by their polls.

"Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans' tolerance for marijuana legalization," wrote Gallup. "Support for legalization has jumped 10 percentage points since last November and the legal momentum shows no sign of abating."

Marijuana advocates, unsurprisingly, welcome the results. "The news of such widespread support for ending marijuana prohibition bodes well for efforts under way to change state laws around the nation," said Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project to AFP of the new poll.