A new Gallup poll suggests that more than half of Americans favor legalizing marijuana.
The poll, released Tuesday, showed that 58 percent of respondents said they think pot should be legal, an 8-point increase from 2011, when 50 percent responded the same way. Gallup made the conclusion based on 1,028 Americans surveyed via phone on Oct. 3 and 6.
The survey results reflect a marked change in how Americans view marijuana since the turn of the century, according to Gallup. Twenty states and the District of Columbia allow medical use of marijuana, and in 2012, Colorado and Washington both legalized its recreational use.
Twelve percent favored pot legalization when Gallup first asked the question in 1969. The approval rate in 2001 was 31 percent.
The latest poll also indicated:
- 62 percent of independent votes favored legalization.
- 65 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of Republicans also said yes.
- 31 percent of respondents between the ages of 18-29 said they were against legalization; 53 percent of those over 65 also said no.
In the report, Gallup managing editor Art Swift concluded:
“Whatever the reasons for Americans' greater acceptance of marijuana, it is likely that this momentum will spur further legalization efforts across the United States. Advocates of legalizing marijuana say taxing and regulating the drug could be financially beneficial to states and municipalities nationwide. But detractors such as law enforcement and substance abuse professionals have cited health risks including an increased heart rate, and respiratory and memory problems.”
Medical pot was approved in Georgia in 1980, but the law has been dormant since. Late in 2012, the Georgia Campaign for Access, Reform and Education (CARE) announced plans to push for decriminalizing marijuana in Georgia. The group says 35,000 to 40,000 marijuana arrests are made each year in Georgia, and argue that legalizing pot would trim taxpayer burden by creating new tax revenue on a state-regulated crop.
How do you feel about legalizing marijuana in Georgia or elsewhere? Is it just a matter of time before it happens? Or, is this a moral issue on which lawmakers shouldn’t budge?