A majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana for the first time in four decades of polling, according to Pew Research. Legalizing the drug — which has already happened in two states, while it has been decriminalized in 14 others — is supported by 52 percent of Americans; 45 percent would like to continue the federal prohibition against cannabis.
The shift in public attitudes seems closely tied to the public’s growing weariness with imprisoning people for nonviolent drug crimes, with 72 percent saying that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth.
The percentage of Americans who see smoking marijuana as a “moral” issue has flipped since 2006. Then 50 percent said use of the drug was a moral issue. Today the same percentage say otherwise. This could be the effect of many seeing the so-called “War on Drugs” as more immoral than drug use itself.
Another key factor in the country’s growing tolerance for the drug is Baby Boomers supporting legalization at even greater numbers than they did in the 1970s.
The generational divide on the drug — and the most overwhelming evidence that the cultural shift on marijuana will be permanent — comes from the answers to the question, “Have you ever happened to try marijuana in the past year?”