American support for legalizing marijuana hits new record high

Emily Gray Brosious

More Americans support legalizing marijuana than ever before(Photo credit: Djibouti/Compfight cc)

More Americans support legalizing marijuana than ever before.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago shows Americans’ support for legalizing marijuana has rocketed to 61 percent, as reported by The Washington Post.

The same poll, released March 25, found just 39 percent of Americans oppose legalizing marijuana.

Researchers conducted interviews with 1,042 adults between Feb. 11 and Feb. 14, 2016, with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Previous record highs were measured in a 2015 Gallup poll, which found 58 percent of Americans supported legalizing recreational cannabis.

According to the latest AP poll, 33 percent of Americans who support legalizing marijuana think there should be no restrictions on the plant.

Forty-three percent of legalization supporters think there should be restrictions on purchase amounts, and 24 percent of legalization supporters think the plant should be available only to people with a medical prescription.

According to the same poll, just 7 percent of Americans support legalizing other drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

Support for marijuana legalization has grown steadily over time in the United States.

Gallup polling in 1969 found just 12 percent of Americans supported legalizing marijuana at the time. By the late 1970s, support had grown to about 25 percent. By 2000, support for legalization increased to about 30 percent, and was higher than 40 percent by 2009.

Recreational marijuana is already legal for adult consumption in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

The latest polling data comes as numerous additional states move to legalize medical and/or recreational marijuana in 2016. It also comes just weeks ahead of a major United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on international drug policy to be held at the UN headquarters in New York this April.

Many policy makers, community and faith leaders and NGOs are pushing for the upcoming UN session be used as an opportunity to end international drug war policies, and transition toward a public health approach to drug policy.

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