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Harris Poll: Half of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana for Recreational Use

A new poll shows that 50 percent of American adults favor the legalization of recreational marijuana, while 82 percent support of medical marijuana legalization.

Fifty percent of American adults are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a new survey by Harris Poll. Support was found to be highest among adults between the ages of 18 and 34, with 56 percent in favor.

“Just over 2 in 5 adults (42%) oppose the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, particularly those ages 65 and older (56% oppose),” said Hannah Pollack, research analyst of the Harris Poll, in a press release.

While this year’s Harris’ survey shows a one-point increase in support for nationwide legalization compared to last, it exhibits the lowest level of support out of several other polls that asked about marijuana legalization this year. In June, a poll by Quinnipiac University found that 54 percent of registered voters in the U.S. support the legalization of adult use marijuana, and in October, the Pew Research Center found support for legalization to be at 57 percent. Gallup, in November, showed support for legalizing marijuana in the U.S. to be at 60 percent, its highest peak since the poll began 47 years ago.

The Harris Poll found that about 6 in 10 (64 percent) of adults feel that marijuana legalization causes an increase in tourism, while 7 in 10 (71 percent) believe that legalized marijuana leads to increases in tax revenue. Colorado, the first state to allow for retail sales, generated over $1 billion in marijuana sales and more than $150 million in tax revenue in 2016. Oregon’s first-year recreational marijuana sales have far surpassed projections, hitting the $160 million mark in September and generating over $54 million in statewide tax revenue as of November 30.

DEA marijuana illegal

Just over a third of adults (35 percent) believe the decision of whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana should be made at the federal level, according to the poll, while 48 percent are in favor of states retaining the right to make the decision. Following the results of this November’s election, there are now eight U.S. states – Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts — that have so far legalized adult use marijuana. Several additional states have a good chance of legalizing recreational marijuana in the coming years.

A large majority of regular alcohol drinkers that participated in the poll believe that marijuana legalization would not impact their personal consumption of regular beer and spirits (81 percent) or wine (85 percent). A recent analysis, however, shows that beer sales are falling in states with legalized marijuana.

Support for legalizing medical marijuana was found to be much higher. About 8 in 10 adults (82 percent) favor legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the Harris Poll. Comprehensive medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states. Sixteen others have adopted limited access marijuana product laws. Cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil and its products remain legal throughout all 50 U.S. states.

The Harris Poll surveyed 2,054 adults aged 18 and over throughout the United States. The questions were answered online between December 8 and 12, 2016. You can read the entire poll report here.

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