A new Huffington Post poll/YouGov poll has found one of the highest level of support for marijuana legalization of any national poll. Overall it found 59 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legalized, while just 26 percent think it should remain illegal. From Huffington Post:
Which of the following is closest to your opinion?
Marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated like alcohol . . 51%
Marijuana should be legalized but NOT taxed and regulated like alcohol . . 8%
Marijuana should not be legalized . . 26%
Not sure . . 15%
The poll also found that support for medical marijuana remains strong, 64 percent favored allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana and only 23 percent oppose the practice.
The has been relatively little recent national polling about marijuana legalization to compare these results to. Pew Research hasn’t asked about marijuana legalization since March of 2011. At the time it found only 45 percent wanted it to be legalized while 50 wanted it to remain illegal. Similarly, the last time Gallup surveyed Americans about marijuana was exactly one year ago. Last October it found 50 percent of adults supported legalized marijuana and 46 percent opposed.
Both polls though did find that support for marijuana reform increased significantly in just the past several years. According to Gallup, support for marijuana legalization grew from just 36 percent in 2005 to majority support in 2011. It is reasonable to suspect support for marijuana legalization has increased by several percentages point since just last year.
I also suspect the wording of the question is responsible for it finding higher levels of support now than polling conducted last year. Pew and Gallup only ask the general question about whether or not marijuana should be legal. When surveys clearly indicate marijuana would also be highly regulated if legalized that tends to increase support. As you can see in this poll, very few Americans support the idea of legalizee marijuana without highly regulating it.