The number of Americans who support cannabis legalization is on the rise, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.
Today, 57 percent of US adults believe the use of marijuana should be made legal, with a mere 37 percent saying it should remain illegal. Ten years ago, public opinion was much the opposite, with 32 percent in favor of legalization and 60 percent opposed.
These numbers come from a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center from Aug. 23 through September 2 among 1,201 US adults. Among the results was the finding that young adults have disproportionately driven the shift toward public support of cannabis, although support is also increasing among other generations.
Millennials – those between the ages of 18 and 35 in 2016 – are more than twice as likely to support legalization measures as they were 10 years ago (71 percent today from 34 percent in 2006) and are substantially more likely to support such measures than other generations.
Support for legalization has also risen significantly among members of Generation X (ages 36 to 51 in 2016) and Baby Boomers (ages 52 to 70 in 2016). While a mere 21 percent of Generation X'ers supported legalization in 1990, that number is now 57 percent. A majority of Boomers (56 percent) now support legalization, up from 17 percent in 1990.
Democrats support legalization, Republicans don't
The survey also found that by more than two-to-one, Democrats favor legalizing marijuana over not legalizing (66 percent vs. 30 percent). The majority of Republicans (55 percent) are against marijuana legalization, while 41 percent favor it.
Past Pew Research Center surveys have found that Hispanics are less supportive of legalizing marijuana than whites or blacks. While 49 percent of Hispanics say marijuana use should be illegal, 46 percent say it should be legalized. Identical majorities of whites and blacks favor marijuana legalization, at 59 percent.