Support for Marijuana at an All-Time High

More Americans are in support of marijuana legalization than ever before, a new survey has found.

A record high 61 percent of Americans are in support of marijuana legalization, according to a new survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

“This is yet another demonstration of just how ready Americans are for the end of marijuana prohibition,” said Tom Angell of the marijuana reform group Marijuana Majority. “The growing level of support for legalization that we see in poll after poll is exactly why we’re now in a situation — for the first time in history — where every major presidential candidate in both parties has pledged to let states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference.”

The survey asked 1,042 adults the question, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” Gallup used this exact wording in their survey last fall, which recorded a previous high of 58 percent support for legalization.

The AP-NORC Center survey was conducted online and over the phone in February 2016 and included interviews with adults from all of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The survey did report considerable gaps in legalization attitudes depending on both political party and age. Democrats (70 percent) and independents (65 percent) look to support legalization at a much higher rate, compared to Republicans (47 percent). Eighty-two percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 are in support of legalization, while just 44 percent of those aged 60 and older are in favor.

Responses to the survey’s follow-up questions show that 43 percent of those in support of legalization believe there should be restrictions on purchase amounts (33 percent say there should be no restrictions). Twenty-four percent of marijuana legalization supporters believe a medical prescription should be required for purchase.

The poll also revealed that a majority of Americans are concerned with prescription painkiller and heroin abuse. Sixty-two percent of Americans said they believe there is a serious problem with some type of substance abuse in their community and most feel their community isn’t doing enough to deal with the problem.

Legal access to cannabis has shown to reduce the rates of overdoses from addictive painkiller medications like opioids. Just last month, a study by the University of Michigan revealed that chronic pain patients using medical marijuana consumed 64 percent fewer prescription opioids. Researchers have encouraged doctors to prescribe cannabis rather than opioids to their chronic pain patients, and just last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged doctors to not test their pain patients for marijuana.

Currently, four states (ColoradoWashingtonOregonAlaska) have legalized adult use marijuana and 23 states have adopted medical marijuana legislation. The results of this survey are the latest affirmation of America’s shifting attitudes toward cannabis. It arrives just before what could be a historic year for marijuana legislative reform, as the number of states legalizing recreational use cannabis is expected to reach double digits and medical marijuana is expected to expand throughout 2016.