By KEVIN ROBILLARD
A clear majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana for the first time in 40 years, according to a poll released Thursday.
In the Pew Research Center poll released Thursday, 52 percent support legalizing the drug and only 45 percent oppose legalization. While support has generally tracked upward over time, it has spiked 11 points since 2010.
The first public poll on legalizing marijuana, taken by Gallup in 1969, found a whopping 84 percent of the country opposed.
In November 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado both decided to legalize marijuana, becoming the first two states to do so. Three-fifths of Americans said the federal government shouldn’t enforce marijuana laws in those states. And 72 percent said the government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they’re worth.
Support for legal weed use has increased across age groups, genders, education levels, ideologies and ethnic backgrounds since 2010. The largest jumps have come from Hispanics, where support rose from 35 percent to 51 percent, and moderate or liberal Republicans, who increased support from 36 percent to 53 percent. Support is lower among older people, and among Republicans and conservatives.
That increase in support has come as Americans move away from a moralistic opposition to smoking weed. In 2006, 50 percent of Americans said smoking marijuana was morally wrong. Today, the same number says it is not a moral issue.
The poll of 1,501 adults was conducted from March 13 to March 17. It has a margin of error of plus