Support for the legalization of marijuana is at an all-time high, with 36% of adults agreeing that we should free the weed, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. In the West, support for marijuana legalization is nearly a majority position, with 47% of Westerners agreeing that pot should be legal.
Gallup has periodically polled Americans on the issue since 1969, when only 12% endorsed legalization. By 1977, support peaked at 28%, then declined into the mid- and low 20s during the dark years of the Reagan era. Support for marijuana legalization did not exceed 1970s levels again until 2000, when 31% approved. Since 2000, support for legalization has continued to edge up.
Meanwhile, the number of people who want to keep marijuana illegal hovers at 60%. Opposition to legalization is declining slowly from a recent high of 73% ten years ago and an all-time high of 84% in 1969.
Support for legalization varies by age, gender, location, and political persuasion. Among young adults (18 to 29), nearly half (47%) are in favor, but that figure declines dramatically with age. Among 30-to-64-year-olds, only 35% favor legalization, and among the senior set (65 or older), the figure declines to 22%. Men tend to favor legalization more than women, with 44% of men aged 18 to 49 agreeing, compared to only 34% of women in the same age group. The numbers decline with age for both sexes.
In terms of geography, the West is the most pot-friendly part of the country, a finding Gallup suggested could be related to the prevalence of legal medical marijuana there. 47% of Westerners said legalize it, compared to 33% in the Midwest and 34% in the East. Anti-reefer sentiment is strongest in the South, where only 29% approved of legalization.
Church attendance and support for legalization are negatively correlated. The more likely you are to attend weekly church services, the less likely you are to support legalization. Only 17% of regular church-goers supported it, compared to 49% of those who never or rarely go to church.
In terms of political affiliation, Democrats are more likely to support legalization than Republicans by a substantial margin, 37% to 21%. Independents were more likely than members of either party to support legalization, with 44% in favor. By ideological position, a majority of self-described liberals (54%) supported legalization, 36% of moderates did, and only 22% of conservatives.