A new Gallup poll reveals the majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. The poll found 58 percent approve of legalization, which is up from the 46 percent who approved five years ago. The data shows broad support from young Americans, but a growing acceptance for the drug among older people as well.
The survey results, released on Oct. 21, show an upward trend in approval for marijuana legalization over the last 10 years. In 2005, only 36 percent of Americans supported legalization. The public’s willingness to decriminalize the drug has changed dramatically since 1969, when Gallup first started asking the question. Then, only 12 percent of Americans supported legalization.
Gallup attributes the growing support for legalization to changing demographics. The number of young people who do not have a negative view of marijuana continues to grow, while the number of senior citizens who disapprove has declined.
Of those polled, 71 percent between 18 and 34 years old support legalization, while only 35 percent of those who are 65 and older are in favor, Gallup reports.
The growing national acceptance of marijuana seems to be crossing generational lines. Support for legalization has doubled since 1969 among the generation of Americans born between 1936 and 1950. Every age bracket has seen a dramatic increase in support over the last 30 years.
Tom Angell, chairman of marijuana legalization advocacy group Marijuana Majority, argues that lawmakers should be paying attention to these polls, The Hill reports.
“These days it’s not especially exciting to see yet another poll showing majority support for legalizing marijuana, but 58 percent is a very strong share of the American people calling for change, and elected officials should listen,” says Angell.
"We’re seeing an increasing number of national politicians saying that it’s time to at least let states implement their own laws without federal interference," Angell told The Washington Post. "And we’re also seeing a growing number [of] candidates endorsing legalization outright, which shows how mainstream this issue is now."
States that have legalized marijuana, including Colorado and Washington, have seen positive results. Both have enjoyed a declining crime rate and rising economies since legalization, according to The Washington Post.
Gallup's poll was conducted from Oct. 7-11 and it surveyed 1,015 random adults by telephone. With 4-point margin in sampling error, Gallup gives its results a 95 percent confidence level.