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Public Support For Marijuana Legalization Hits Record High

A record number of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana, according to a new Gallup poll released Tuesday.

The poll, which was conducted Oct. 3-6, reports that 58 percent of the public supports the legalization of marijuana, while 39 percent opposes it.

The tide of public opinion appears to be rapidly turning in favor of legalization. In November 2012, Gallup found that 48 percent of Americans favored marijuana legalization compared with 50 percent who did not. Just over a decade earlier, in 2001, only 31 percent supported legalization while 64 percent opposed it.

The first time Gallup recorded a majority of Americans in favor of legalization came in 2011, when 50 percent said they supported it and 46 percent said they opposed it.

The issue remains a fairly partisan one: Sixty-five percent of Democrats support legalizing marijuana, compared with 35 percent of Republicans. Meanwhile, 62 percent of independents say they are pro-legalization, up from 50 percent last year.

Every age group Gallup tested was in favor of marijuana legalization except for those 65 and older. Fifty-three percent of respondents in that group said they were against legalization, while 45 percent were in support.

Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are still the most likely to back legalizing marijuana. Of that age group, two-thirds — 67 percent — favor legalization while 31 percent would like to see the drug remain illegal.

The results follow some major victories for pro-legalization forces. Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana last year, and the Justice Department announced in August it would not challenge the laws.

Advocates are also moving forward with efforts to put a marijuana legalization referendum on the ballot in 10 other states over the next four years.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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