By Steve Elliott
A majority of Americans continue to say marijuana should be legal in the United States, with 58 percent now holding that opinion, equaling the highest-ever support in Gallup's 46-year trend.
Support for legalizing recreational cannabis has grown steadily among Americans over time, reports Jeffrey M. Jones at Gallup. When Gallup first asked the question, back in the heady hippy days of 1969, just 12 percent of Americans said they thought marijuana use should be legal, with little change in two early 1970s polls.
But by the late 70s, with tacit approval from the Carter White House, support had increased to about 25 percent, and held near that point through the mid-1990s. The percentage of Americans who favored making cannabis legal passed 30 percent by 2000, and topped 50 percent by 2009.
Support has vacillated over the past six years, but averaged 48 percent from 2010 through 2012, and has averaged above 56 percent since 2013.
The higher level of support comes as many states and localities are changing, or at least considering changing, their laws on cannabis. So far, four states -- Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska -- have made recreational marijuana use legal, along with the District of Columbia. Ohio voters are set next month to decide a ballot initiative that would do the same thing, albeit in a fashion which hands control of commercial growing to just 10 wealthy investors who are financing the campaign.