Latest Gallup poll: Americans favor marijuana legalization more than ever before

The Globe and Mail

Overall, 64 percent of Americans now support legalization, the highest percentage ever in Gallup polling.

Yet perhaps the biggest indicator of legal marijuana's effects on American society comes in the form of a new Gallup poll concerning the subject, which indicates - for the first time ever - that the majority of Republicans think pot should be legalized. A majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents support marijuana reform.

In 2011, 50 percent of Gallup survey respondents supported legalization, and in 2001, that number was just 34 percent. As America became entrenched in the Vietnam War and 350,000 music fans attended Woodstock, only 12 percent of those surveyed in 1969 supported the outright legalization of marijuana.

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"At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when almost two-thirds of voters endorse legalizing the plant's use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or moral perspective to maintain the federal prohibition of marijuana", Strekal said in a statement. Recreational marijuana has since been legalized in a total of eight states and D.C., including five where adults can purchase marijuana from government-regulated retail dispensaries: Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada and Washington state.

A year ago - in advance of nine states voting on legalization measures, eight of which passed - Americans favored legalization at a level of 60 percent. Many other states allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes under laws with varying degrees of strictness. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

It's also the first time that a majority of Republican respondents favored legalization. That's the most support that Gallup has picked up in 48 years of polling on this question. In 2010 Democrats were nearly twice as likely as Republicans to favor legalization. Despite this slower pace, though, the trend toward more liberal marijuana laws and eventually nationwide legalization, seems to be fairly clear. In the case of marijuana, changes in the law can only really come through either the legislative process or, as has been the case in many states, through a referendum taken to the voters.

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