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October 12, 2016

More than half of Americans want to legalize marijuana, Pew study finds

Politics Marijuana
Marijuana file art/for PhillyVoice


Support is quickly gaining for marijuana legalization among Americans, according to a study from the Pew Research Center released Wednesday.

Opinions have completely shifted in just a decade's time, according to the study. Fifty-seven percent of Americans now think that marijuana usage should be legalized while 37 percent were against legalization. In the early 2000s, 60 percent thought the latter.

The study found that young adults have driven public support. Seventy-one percent of Millennials today favor legalization.

Though the push has been from those between the ages of 18 and 35, the study also found that a majority of Generations Xers and Baby Boomers support legalization.

Democrats were also much more likely, at 66 percent, to favor legalization than Republicans, where 55 percent were against.

The study also found that fewer Hispanics were in support of legalization than whites or blacks. About 49 percent of Hispanics interviewed for the study said that pot should be legal and 46 percent saying that they thought otherwise.

The Pew study was conducted via telephone interviews with 1,201 adults between Aug. 23-Sept. 2.

Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in April, though it won't be available for those suffering from one of the 17 "approved" conditions until 2018. The state now joins the ranks of others like New Jersey, New York and Ohio.

Pennsylvania is still many steps from becoming anything like Washington and Oregon, where recreational marijuana has been made legal.

The state, however, does have some politicians like Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, who are pushing for full usage.

"[Medical marijuana] will ultimately lead to recreational marijuana,” Leach told PhillyVoice when medicinal usage was legalized. “It will de-stigmatize marijuana, it will create marijuana-based institutions.” 

The Pew study comes just weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 general election where voters in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada will decide on whether or not to legalize recreational cannabis.