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  • Survey: A Majority Of Americans Support Legal Marijuana

    The General Social Survey, an authoritative study of public opinion conducted every two years, has found that for the first time ever, 52 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, while 42 percent oppose.

    Approximately 7 percent remain undecided. A total of 1,687 respondents were asked about legal marijuana during the groundwork for the survey last year. The result is a 9 percentage point increase from GSS findings in 2012. The GSS results mirror a Pew survey from October 2014, which found that 52 percent believe marijuana should be legal.

    And since 1990, when support across the country was pegged at just 16 percent, the number of Americans approving of marijuana legalization has grown steadily. In 2004, support was at 34 percent, and although it dipped in 2006 slightly, it has jumped 19 percentage points to its current rate of 52 percent. The experiments of legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington appear to have had a positive effect on public opinion.

    Voters in Colorado, who have seen the results of the experiment up close, have increased their support, moving from 55 percent in 2012 to 58 percent, according to a Quinnipiac poll in February 2015.

    Even groups traditionally opposed to marijuana legalization have jumped behind the cause. Usually, only 31 percent of Republicans support legalization, but at the Conservative Political Action Conference in late February, conservatives polled at 41 percent support for legal marijuana. New research from Pew indicates that the lion’s share of the support is coming from Republican millennials, 63 percent of whom support legal marijuana, compared to only 35 percent who think it should remain illegal.

    Advocacy efforts against marijuana have largely dropped off the map, but now opponents are starting to take to the courts in opposition of the drug. For now, the details are unclear, but it appears as though another legal challenge may be coming to legal marijuana on Thursday.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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