New Pew poll: Support for marijuana legalization continues to rise among Americans

Millennials and Generation Xers favor legal cannabis use at levels of 70 percent and 66 percent, respectively

Marijuana legalization continues to be viewed more favorably by Americans, buoyed by substantial support from younger adults, according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center.

Overall, 61 percent of Americans surveyed said they support legalization, a 4-percentage-point increase from last year, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October 2017 of 1,504 adults.

A total of 37 percent of adults surveyed said marijuana should not be legal; 5 percent were undecided or refused to answer. The margin of error for the total sample size was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

The “six in 10 Americans” support levels align with recently published results from longstanding polling firm Gallup, which reported in October that 64 percent of adult survey respondents said that marijuana should be legalized.

Pew Research Center survey results, which were released Friday, provide a glimpse as to how the topic of legalization is viewed within certain generation or political demographics and how those views have changed — in some regards, drastically, — since 2010. In March 2010, 41 percent of Pew Research Center survey respondents said marijuana use should be legal, while 52 percent disagreed, according to historical survey data.

As compared to last year’s survey, the latest Pew Research Center data are relatively unchanged.

Levels of support appear to have inched up among demographics that, overall, continue to remain opposed to legalization, Pew Research Center data show.


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Of Republicans surveyed, 43 percent said cannabis use should be legal while 55 percent said it should be illegal. Last year, levels of support were at 41 percent, opposition at 55 percent, for Republicans surveyed.

A similar 2-percentage-point increase was seen among the Silent Generation (those aged 71 to 88 years old), as 35 percent of respondents said marijuana use should be legal — as opposed to 33 percent last year.

The increases and decreases among generational or political demographics were within margins of error.

The largest swaths of support both overall and among political affiliation continue to come from younger adults, Pew Research Center officials noted.

Millennials and Generation Xers favor legal cannabis use at levels of 70 percent and 66 percent, respectively.


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As to political party differences, Pew Research Center officials note:

“While both parties are divided along age lines in views of marijuana legalization, the differences are especially stark among Republicans. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, those younger than 40 favor legalizing marijuana use, 62 percent to 38 percent. Republicans aged 40 to 64 are divided (48 percent say it should be legal, 49 percent illegal), while those 65 and older oppose marijuana legalization by more than two-to-one (67 percent to 30 percent).”

Support among Democrats and those who lean Democrat was 79 percent for those under the age of 40 and 70 percent for those aged 40 to 64, according to Pew Research Center data.