A new Gallup poll shows that the majority of Americans today support marijuana legalization at 58 percent. These numbers mark the first time that most of the country is behind legislation that would legalize pot. When this poll was first taken in 1969, only 12 percent favored it.
It took eight years before support more than doubled to 28 percent in 1977. It then dipped slightly toward the beginning of the 1980s and remained steady until about 1996. Pollsters at Gallup believe that the recent surge of support, 10 percentage points in the last year (the largest jump proportionally ever), is because of the successful efforts in Colorado and Washington to fully legalize marijuana.
Gallup reported that California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom supports marijuana legalization, and state advocates are looking to propose a referendum in 2014 to legalize pot. And just in August, the DOJ announced that it will not pursue suit after the states of Colorado and Washington because of their recent marijuana legislation.
Looking at the poll from the party-politics standpoint, opinions among the Republicans and Democrats have remained pretty consistent, comparatively. However, what helped marijuana’s favorability gained steam was growing support among independents, which is now at 62 percent, a 12 point jump from last November.
What is, perhaps, the most interesting finding of the poll is that, although still mostly opposed to legalization, support among those age 65 and older increased 14 points in the last two years.
Gallup noted that “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.” They mainly attribute this growing acceptance to the scientific studies that have given medical validation to marijuana, and more recently, the legislation in Colorado and Washington.
Since 1969, support for legal marijuana has mostly been on a steady incline with a huge spike in the last year. If trends are any indicator, the only way for legal marijuana support to go is up.