Nation Now

The latest from the National desk

« Previous Post | Nation Now Home | Next Post »

Poll: 50% of Americans -- a record high -- favor legal marijuana

October 17, 2011 |  4:14 pm

Slowly but surely, Americans seem to be making peace with the pot pipe.

According to a poll released by Gallup on Monday, 50% of Americans surveyed say marijuana use should be legal — up from 46% last year. This year, 46% percent said it should be illegal.

Those numbers mean that, for the first time in the poll's 42-year-history, Americans who say that marijuana should be legal outnumber those who say it should be illegal.

Societal acceptance of marijuana has come a long way since 1969, when Gallup first posed the question "Should marijuana use be legal?" Back then, only 12% of Americans favored legalization of the drug. From the '70s through the mid-'90s, support remained in the 20s, but it has been climbing steadily since 2002.

Some interesting results from the most recent poll:

  • Men are more likely to support legalizing marijuana than women (55% vs. 46%).
  • People in the West are more likely to support it than people in the East (55% vs. 51%).
  • People ages 18-29 are twice as likely to support marijuana use as people 65 or older (62% vs. 31%).

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.  

In June, Michele M. Leonhart, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said that marijuana would remain classified as Schedule 1 because it "has a high potential for abuse" and "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

That now appears slightly out of step with what most Americans think. A Gallup survey last year found that 70% of people favored making it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana to reduce pain and suffering.


Emergency halt to wolf hunts sought in Montana and Idaho

Understanding the Occupy Wall Street movement: A primer

Cornel West, others arrested at Supreme Court won't be prosecuted

--Deborah Netburn

Image: A participant holds up a bag of marijuana during the first day of Seattle's Hempfest 2011. Credit: Joshua Trujillo / AP