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Rasmussen Poll: Majority Of Voters Favor Legalizing Marijuana Like Alcohol

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Nearly six out of ten American voters now believe that the personal use of marijuana should no longer be a criminal offense, and 56 percent of Americans say that the substance ought to be legalized like alcohol, according to a nationwide Rasmussen telephone poll of 1,000 likely voters.

According to the poll, 58 percent of respondents believe that it should not be a crime “for someone to smoke marijuana” in private. Only 32 percent of respondents believed that such activity should remain illegal. Among self-identified Democrats, 63 percent agreed that the personal use of marijuana should not be a crime versus 49 percent of Republicans.

A solid majority of respondents, 56 percent, also said that they favored “legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol or cigarettes.” (Thirty-four percent were opposed.) Among males polled, 61 percent favored legalization versus 52 percent of females. A majority of respondents of every age group polled favored legalizing cannabis, including 50 percent of those age 65 and older. However, among those respondents with children, only 49 percent said that they favored legalization.

Support for legalizing cannabis rose to 57 percent when pollsters’ asked: Do you favor legalizing marijuana if “no one under 18 could buy it, it was banned in public, and there were strict penalties for driving under the influence.” The slight gain in overall support was largely because of a spike in support among respondents with children (49 percent to 58 percent) and self-identified Republicans (48 percent to 52 percent).

The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

In 2011, a nationwide Gallup poll reported that 50 percent of Americans support legalizing the use of cannabis for adults. Forty-six percent of respondents said they opposed the idea. The 2011 Gallup survey results marked the first time that the polling firm, which has tracked Americans' attitudes toward marijuana since the late 1960s, reported that more Americans support legalizing cannabis than oppose it.

Most recently, an April 2012 Rasmussen Reports telephone survey reported that 47 percent of adults "believe the country should legalize and tax marijuana in order to help solve the nation's fiscal problems." Forty-two percent of respondents disagreed, while ten percent were undecided.