Nearly half of Americans support legalizing marijuana use in country, finds poll
Nearly half of Americans believe that marijuana use should be legal amid growing support for decriminalization drug use in the country, a new poll has found.
According to a CBS News Poll, support for legalizing marijuana inched up slightly from 45 percent in September to 47 percent.
The poll found that nearly 47 percent Americans, however, said that it should remain prohibited.
A year ago, a slight majority of Americans, 51 percent, opposed legalizing marijuana use.
The shift in public opinion was seen at the ballot box this month, when Colorado and Washington became the first states in the nation to approve of recreational marijuana use among adults over the age of 21, CBS News reports.
Marijuana use of any kind, however, is still illegal under federal law.
According to exit polls, legalizing marijuana passed in Colorado and Washington with the support of a majority of younger voters under the age of 45.
Nationwide, this pattern continues as a majority of Americans under the age of 45 support legalizing marijuana, while older Americans, particularly those over 65, oppose it.
Americans are divided by party on this issue as well. While 51 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents support legalizing marijuana, 66 percent of Republicans oppose it, the report said.
Support for medical marijuana, now legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, is growing as well, the poll found.
Nearly, 83 percent of Americans favor allowing doctors to prescribe small amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses.
Still, just 29 percent of Americans think that most of the marijuana that is purchased in this country through state-authorized medical marijuana programs is being used to alleviate suffering from serious medical illnesses, while 53 percent think it is used for other purposes.
Even though marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, most Americans don't think this is a matter that should involve the federal government.
The poll found that nearly 59 percent of Americans think whether or not to legalize marijuana should be left up to each individual state government to decide, including 49 percent of those who oppose legalizing marijuana in general, the report added.