For the first time, a majority of Americans, 58%, favor legalizing marijuana, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. That number was just 12% in 1969, when Gallup first asked the question. 38% of Americans surveyed this year said they had tried marijuana.
The shift in national public support for pot legalization accelerated over the last two years. Public support has risen 8 points since 2011, according to Gallup. Seizing on this momentum, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use in 2012. Washington and Colorado are just now beginning to roll out their new pot markets after regulators spent months working on the rules. These states’ efforts will serve as test cases for other states looking to create their own legal markets. In California, a task force headed by the state’s Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom, will, among other things, study the implementation of Washington and Colorado’s regulations to help them draft a measure for marijuana legalization that California could implement.
Young people make up the bulk of support for legalization (67% aged 18 to 29 back it), but the number of people aged 65 or older who support legalization has gone up 14 percentage points since 2011, the Gallup polls show. Independents, at 62%, have shown the biggest growth in support. 65% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans now support legalization.