An activist waves a flag during the 42nd Annual Hash Bash at the University of Michigan on Saturday, April 6 2013.
(USA TODAY) -- Fueled by political independents and legalization in Colorado and
Washington, a solid majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal,
the first time that's happened since Gallup began polling on the
question during the Vietnam War.
Since November 2012, support has jumped 10 percentage points, with 58% calling for legalization, Gallup announced Tuesday. Opposition fell to 39%, led by Republicans and older Americans.
65 and older are the only age group that still object to making the
drug legal. But support among that group has nonetheless jumped 14
percentage points in the past two years.
Support for legalization
is strongest among Americans 18 to 29 years old - 67% - and Democrats -
65%. Independents showed the most movement in the past year, with 62%
favoring legalization in the latest poll compared with 50% in 2012. Only
35% of Republicans approve.
Clear majorities among 30- to 64-year-olds also back making pot legal.
That's in stark contrast to Gallup's first poll on the issue, in 1969, when only 12% of Americans favored legalization.
has been a long path toward majority acceptance of marijuana over the
past 44 years, but Americans' support for legalization accelerated as
the new millennium began. This acceptance of a substance that most
people might have considered forbidden in the late 1960s and 1970s may
be attributed to changing social mores and growing social acceptance.
The increasing prevalence of medical marijuana as a socially acceptable
way to alleviate symptoms of diseases such as arthritis, and as a way to
mitigate side effects of chemotherapy, may have also contributed to
Americans' growing support.
"it is clear that interest in this drug and these issues will remain elevated in the foreseeable future," Gallup writes.