Washington, DC: The percentage of Americans favoring the legalization of cannabis has risen more than 33 percent since 1995 and now stands at its all-time highest level of public support, according to polling data published by Gallup this week.
Thirty-six percent of respondents said that they favor making the personal use of marijuana legal, up from 25 percent in 1995. Sixty percent of respondents said that they oppose legalizing pot, down from 73 percent a decade ago. When Gallup initially posed the question in 1969, 84 percent of respondents opposed legalizing cannabis.
"This latest Gallup poll, coupled with Denver voters this week electing to eliminate all criminal and civil penalties for possession of an ounce of marijuana, demonstrate that a growing number of Americans see the benefit of legalizing cannabis, regardless of whether it is being used as a medicine or for pleasure," said NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup. "As we learned with alcohol prohibition 75 years ago, it is far better to tax and regulate the marijuana market than to rely on the enforcement of criminal prohibition."
Gallup reported that younger Americans (aged 18 to 29) express the strongest support for marijuana law reform, with 47 percent endorsing pot's legalization. Support for liberalizing the nation's marijuana laws remains much lower among adults aged 30 to 64 (35 percent) and those aged 65 and older (22 percent).
The poll also noted that men (39 percent) are more likely than women (30 percent) to support legalizing cannabis, and that nearly half of citizens residing in Western states back legalization.
Support for legalization remains lower than the national average among Republican voters (21%), Gallup found. Among Democrats, 37 percent favor legalization, as do 44 percent of Independents.
A previous poll conducted by CNN and Time Magazine in 2002 found that 34 percent of Americans backed legalizing marijuana, up from only 18 percent in 1986.
Nearly 75 percent of those age 45 and older support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes regardless of party affiliation, according to a 2004 national poll of 1,706 Americans conducted for the AARP.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full Results of the Gallup poll are available online at: