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Two Polls Show Support for Marijuana Legalization Higher Than Ever

New polls from CBS News and Quinnipiac University show that American support for legalizing marijuana nationwide is at an all-time high.

Two new polls show that support for nationwide marijuana legalization among Americans is now higher than it’s ever been. A CBS News poll found that 61 percent of Americans believe marijuana use should be legalized, a five-point increase from last year. Support for legalization in a study by Quinnipiac University was found to be 60 percent.

Both polls reported that level of support for legalization was their highest ever recorded, respectively.

“From a stigmatized, dangerous drug bought in the shadows, to an accepted treatment for various ills, to a widely accepted recreational outlet, marijuana has made it to the mainstream,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a press release.

There’s been a continual shift toward support for marijuana legalization, according to poll results over the years. Records of the annual CBS News poll show marijuana legalization support was just 27 percent in 1979 before hitting a turning point and growing to 40 percent in 2011, 45 percent in 2013, 51 percent in 2014, 53 percent in 2015, and 56 percent in 2016.

Both polls show that even more Americans support medical marijuana legalization. Quinnipiac found that 94 percent of American voters support the use of marijuana for medical purposes if prescribed by a doctor. Support for medical marijuana was 88 percent in the CBS News poll.

A majority of Americans oppose the government enforcing federal laws against states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana. In the Quinnipiac poll, 73 percent oppose federal interference. In the CBS News poll, 71 percent oppose the federal government interfering with states that have passed legalization laws. This sentiment was shared among members of all political parties. Democrats (76 percent), independents (72 percent), and Republicans (63 percent) oppose a federal crackdown.

Both polls found resistance to legalization to be highest among older generations. In the CBS News poll, only 37 percent of those aged 65 years and older support marijuana legalization, while at least 60 percent of all other age groups support legalization, including 76 percent of 18 to 34 year olds. In the Quinnipiac poll, support for legalization was 42 percent among those aged 65 years and older and 79 percent among those aged 18 to 34 years.

The CBS News poll also found that 69 percent of Americans believe drug abuse should be treated as a public health issue rather than a criminal offense, and 65 percent consider marijuana to be less dangerous than other drugs. Only 23 percent believe legalization leads to an increase in violent crime.

Eight states and Washington D.C. have passed laws allowing for recreational use of marijuana by adults. Twenty-nine states plus Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Cannabis market research analysts have suggested that all 50 states could legalize medical or recreational marijuana by 2021.

You can read more about current cannabis laws in the U.S. on our education page. Keep up with developments in the legal cannabis industry by regularly visiting our news feed.