A recent survey by the Pew Research Center finds that for the first time in four decades, a majority of Americans favors the legalization of marijuana, with 52% supportive and 45% opposed. In addition, the survey found a decrease in those who view marijuana as a "gateway drug" and smoking it as morally wrong, and an increase in the those who feel marijuana has medical uses and that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws are not worth it:
Support for legalizing marijuana has risen 11 points since 2010. The change is even more dramatic since the late 1960s. A 1969 Gallup survey found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use, while 84% were opposed.
The survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted March 13-17 among 1,501 adults, finds that young people are the most supportive of marijuana legalization. Fully 65% of Millennials –born since 1980 and now between 18 and 32 – favor legalizing the use of marijuana, up from just 36% in 2008. Yet there also has been a striking change in long-term attitudes among older generations, particularly Baby Boomers.
Half (50%) of Boomers now favor legalizing marijuana, among the highest percentages ever. In 1978, 47% of Boomers favored legalizing marijuana, but support plummeted during the 1980s, reaching a low of 17% in 1990. Since 1994, however, the percentage of Boomers favoring marijuana legalization has doubled, from 24% to 50%.
Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, came of age in the 1990s when there was widespread opposition to legalizing marijuana. Support for marijuana legalization among Gen X also has risen dramatically – from just 28% in 1994 to 42% a decade later and 54% currently.
The Silent Generation continues to be less supportive of marijuana legalization than younger age cohorts. But the percentage of Silents who favor legalization has nearly doubled –from 17% to 32% – since 2002.