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Americans Think Cannabis Should Be Legal

Small vials of bud sit atop a chart labeled Marijuana by the numbers shows that 47% of the American population wants to legalize.

In History

Americans Think Cannabis Should Be Legal

Support for the legalization of marijuana has finally achieved the same levels of opposition to legalization. This latest development in the continuing upward trend for legalization in the U.S. comes out of the results of a CBS poll which shows 47% of Americans think marijuana should be legal while another 47% think it should remain illegal.

One year ago, a 51% majority of those polled opposed legalizing marijuana use, and supporters of legalization polled two percent lower than this year, at 45%.

Legalizing marijuana for medical use has much more support, with 83% of Americans saying doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical use and 13% saying they should not be allowed to do so.

While support for legalizing marijuana in general splits largely along age and political party lines (Democrats generally support legalization while Republicans do not, and voters under 45 provide most of the support for such legalization while those over 65 are particularly against it), that is not the case for medical marijuana. Americans of all ages tend to support legalization of medical marijuana, and has strong support from Republicans and independents as well as Democrats.

Despite the fact that not yet half of those polled are proponents of marijuana legalization, almost 60% believe state governments should have the right to legislate the use of marijuana, rather than the federal government, which has 34%. These numbers are actually down and up, respectively, from a poll conducted three months ago. In September 2012, 62% of those polled were in favor of state governments determine whether or not marijuana is legal, and 31% were in favor of the federal government deciding.

Interestingly, only 29% believe that marijuana prescribed by doctors is actually being used to treat serious medical illnesses (less than 31% in 2011) and a 53% majority believe doctor-prescribed marijuana is being put to different uses.

The poll was conducted November 16 – 19 among 1,100 adults nationwide by CBS News.

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