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Support For Marijuana Legalization Reaches an All-Time High

Sixty-eight percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, the highest level in 50 years

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

More Americans than ever support the idea of making cannabis legal for both medical and recreational use. They have proven that again and again at the ballot box, and they’ve shown up in bigger numbers than ever for the latest Gallup Poll.

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Gallup releases its survey of Americans’ opinions on a range of issues every year, including the legalization of weed. The most recent survey found that 68 percent of those questioned favored legalization. That’s the highest number in five decades.

The survey also captures the public zeitgeist, as it was released in the same month that voters in Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, and South Dakota all voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Those in Mississippi did the same for medical marijuana.

RELATED: What's Next for Marijuana Legalization in the US

 

All but three groups support legalization.

The new survey found some interesting data on what groups support marijuana the most and the least. That included an extremely small gender divide. Of those surveyed by Gallup, 69 percent of men and 66 percent of women favored legalization.

Age groups showed a larger divide, although every age group had a majority that supported legalization. When separated by age groups, the percentage in favor of making cannabis legal broke out as follows.

  • 18-29: 79 percent
  • 30-49: 75 percent
  • 50-64: 60 percent
  • 65+: 55 percent

Those with a college degree tended to favor legalization more than those without one, by 76 percent to 64 percent.

Also, those with the highest household income— $100,000 or more—supported legalization at a higher level than those with lower household incomes. But again, all income groups had a majority who favored legalization.

Only three groups surveyed by Gallup did not have a majority approve of legalization. They were Republicans (48 percent), conservatives (49 percent), and those who attend weekly religious services (48 percent).

RELATED: What's the Difference Between Drug Decriminalization and Drug Legalization?

 

These numbers show how quickly people can change their opinions.

Opinions change over time, but American's beliefs about marijuana have changed rapidly since 2000. In 1969, when Gallup first asked about legalization, only 12 percent were in favor. By 1977, that number reached 28 percent. 

But that’s where it stayed for many years, decreasing during the “Just Say No” era of the Ronald Reagan presidency in the 1980s and the one-term presidency of George Bush from 1988 to 1992. 

The number rose slightly through the 1990s but did not reach 30 percent until 2000. Since then, support has gone vertical, more than doubling and staying above 66 percent since 2017. 

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