Data Talks: Most Americans Support Legalized Marijuana



The body of evidence showing that a majority of Americans support legalized marijuana is growing. In April, a HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 51 percent of Americans believed that marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated like alcohol. Later, in November, data compiled by Gallup, the General Social Survey, and Pew Research Center found that 52 percent of Americans supported legalized marijuana.

Most recently, a survey conducted by ORC International between January 3 and 5 showed that 55 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal to use, and 54 percent believe it should be legal to sell. This is up from lows of 16 percent recorded by General Social Survey trends in 1990. Support for the legality of the drug has increased by as much as 11 percentage points over the last two years alone.

It’s important to point out that while 55 percent of overall respondents support legalization, views are still fairly polarized between certain demographics. Support among Democrats, for example, is at 62 percent according to the ORC International poll, but among Republicans, it is at just 36 percent. Liberals claimed an 80 percent support rate, while conservatives claimed a 36 percent support rate.

There are also some regional differences in opinion. Sixty percent of survey respondents from the northeast support legalized marijuana, but just 48 percent support it in the south. Sixty-four percent of urban respondents support legalized marijuana, but just 44 percent of rural respondents support it.

Also, it may be time to shake those perceptions that it’s only underachieving bums who support legalizing marijuana. According to the ORC International, 61 percent of respondents who earn more than $50,000 per year support legalization, and 58 percent of those who attended college support it. Here’s a closer look at survey results over time and the demographic breakdown, courtesy of Gallup, the General Social Survey, and Pew Research Center.

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