Americans’ attitudes about marijuana have undergone a rapid shift over recent years. A recent survey found that many more Americans now favor marijuana and shifting the focus of the nation’s overall drug policy. Here are 6 facts about marijuana and public opinion in the U.S.:
1. Support for marijuana legalization is quickly outpacing the opposition. A majority (52%) of Americans say marijuana should be made legal, compared with 45% who want it to remain illegal. In 1969, a Gallup pole revealed that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use. Between 2010 and 2013 support for marijuana legalization rose 11 points. 76% of people surveyed said people convicted of minor marijuana possession should not serve time in jail.
2. Not everyone supports legalization. 31% of Republicans do. Most whites and blacks say marijuana should be legalized, while only 39% of Hispanics agree. 63% of Millennials say marijuana should be legalized while only 27% of the Silent Generation (those 69 to 86 years old) agree.
3. 69% of Americans believe alcohol is more harmful to health than marijuana. 15% picked marijuana as being worse and 14% said both or neither. If marijuana became as widely available as alcohol in the U.S., 63% still believe alcohol to be more harmful to society.
4. 63% of Americans don’t want people to smoke marijuana in public. 54% of people surveyed think that legalizing marijuana would lead to more underage people using it. Whereas 57% of the people surveyed said they would be okay with a store legally selling marijuana in their neighborhood.
5. 47% of Americans say they have tried using marijuana. 11% said they tried marijuana within the past year, which the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health says is the most used illicit drug in the U.S.
6. Four states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – and the Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana use. 14 states have decriminalized certain amounts of marijuana possession. Including those five recreational marijuana locations, nearly half of U.S. states (23 and Washington D.C.) have legalized medical marijuana use.