By Moriah Costa, Cronkite News Service
PHOENIX — Nearly four years after Arizonans narrowly approved medical marijuana, a poll suggests that a slight majority favors following the lead of Colorado and Washington by legalizing the drug for general use.
Fifty-one percent of those responding to the Behavior Research Center’s Rocky Mountain Poll said the sale of marijuana should be legal, while 41 percent were opposed. Eight percent were unsure.
Earl de Berge, the center’s research director, said the results show a changing perspective toward marijuana use among Americans, especially young people.
“It reflects a growing trend across the country,” he said. “Half of Americans have smoked it at some point.”
Two groups are trying to collect enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot in Arizona, with one aiming for this year and the other for 2016.
The poll found that support for legalization was strongest among adults younger than 35, with 61 percent in favor. But 54 percent of those ages 35 to 54 also said they were for it.
Among those 55 and older, 52 percent opposed legalization.
Fifty-four percent of those identifying themselves as Democrats said they in were favor versus 40 percent of Republicans. Among those who identified themselves as independents, 59 percent were in favor.
The poll, conducted between Jan. 16 and Jan. 26, surveyed 701 heads of households in Arizona, including 457 registered voters. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for the entire population and 4.7 percentage points for registered voters.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in an email that the margin for error indicates that there are more people opposed to legalization than the poll suggests.