Support for cannabis legalization continues to grow among the American public, according to newly released data from the General Social Survey.
In 2016, 57 percent of Americans told pollsters that they “think the use of marijuana should be legal”, up from 52 percent in 2014.
The findings of the biennial survey echo those of other recent national surveys that have found public support for cannabis legalization ranging from high 50s to low 60s.
The survey found major discrepancies, however, when it comes to age and political party. While two-thirds of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said they supported legalization (along with a majority of those aged 35 to 49 and 50 to 64), only 42 percent of seniors agreed.
That said, support amongst all age demographics has grown by similar degrees in recent years. In 2008, for example, just 40 percent of the youngest respondents (and just over 21 percent of seniors) supported legalization.
The shifts in public opinion are even more dramatic when broken down by political affiliation. In the year 2000, just 29 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Republicans supported cannabis legalization. In 2016, that figure was 60 percent among Democrats and 40 percent among Republicans.
The most recent figures from Gallup suggest more than 33 million American adults currently admit to consuming cannabis. With voters in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts recently approving recreational cannabis legalization, about one in five Americans are set to have access to legal marijuana.
The General Social Survey was funded largely by the National Science Foundation and conducted through in-person interviews with a random national sample of about 1,900 adults last spring.