For the first time ever, a majority of Americans now support making marijuana usage legal. A new report by the Pew Research Center shows that 52 percent of the country feels smoking pot should not be a crime. Forty-five percent of Americans still say no, but, for the first time in four decades of polling, the naysayers do not make up the majority.
In 1969, a staggering 84 percent of people polled opposed the legalization of marijuana. Things are different now. Support for making pot legal has jumped 11 percent since 2010 alone. Only a third of Americans now feel that smoking pot is morally wrong. Just don’t try to pay your cab fare in weed.
Unsurprisingly, millennials are the most supportive of legalization. Just like with same-sex marriage, this issue benefits from millennials making up an increasing proportion of the electorate. Yet even among this category of adults, the shift in opinion is remarkable. Support for legalization among people born since 1980 has jumped 30 percent in just four years.
But wait, half of baby boomers now support permitting pot use. Even more surprising, this is not the first time. Forty-seven percent of boomers supported legalization in 1978 — ah yes, the seventies — but the number plummeted over the course of the Reagan years. By 1990, only 17 percent of boomers supported legalizing marijuana.
Support remains lowest among those older than baby boomers. Only 32 percent of the silent generation think legalization is fine. But even here, supporters can take comfort in the fact that this percentage has doubled since 2002.
While the percentage of Americans that support legalization is much higher than before, the number of people who have tried pot has not increased nearly as much. Ten years ago 38 percent of people had tried pot, a larger percentage than the number of people who supported legalization. Now 48 percent of people have tried pot, a smaller number. Only one in ten Americans reported having used pot in the past year. Clearly not every American who favor legal marijuana use is a pot smoker, so people who choose to light one up should take comfort in the support of their newly found allies.
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