Nationwide Marijuana Legalization Is Just a Matter of Time, Gallup Reports

It's just a matter of time until the nation embraces recreational use of marijuana, according to a Gallup study released Wednesday morning.

"As more states legalize marijuana, the question of whether the drug should be legal may become when it will be legal," Gallup reports.

After Pew released a survey last week reporting that support for marijuana legalization is at 57 percent, an all-time high, Gallup came out with similar data.

Gallup found support for legalization has reached 60 percent, the highest it's been since Gallup started tracking data on this issue 47 years ago.

In a 1969 poll, Gallup asked, "Do you think marijuana should be made legal, or not?" Only 12 percent of respondents said yes. That percentage rose to 28 percent in the '70s but went back down in the '80s, a decrease Gallup attributes to the "Just Say No" campaign. Gallup reports that support plateaued around 25 percent through 1995, increased to 31 percent in 2000, and has continued to rise since then.

The survey was conducted the first week of October with a random sample of just over 1,000 adults from all fifty states. It found that support has increased among all age groups and in each political party in the last decade. Support is up 33 percentage points among adults aged 18 to 34, and 16 points among adults aged 55 and older. That rise is reflected in political data, as well. Since the early 2000s, support from each party has risen by nearly 50 percent.

After Colorado and Washington voters approved the legalization of marijuana in their states in 2012, a shift occurred, and support for legalization skyrocketed to 58 percent, according to a Gallup report. Since then, a majority of Americans have continued to support legalization.

Gallup theorizes that marijuana will closely follow the gay-rights and the same-sex-marriage movement; once a handful of states legalized same-sex marriage and public opinion started shifting, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed it legal last year. 

This will definitely happen if California legalizes, Gallup summarizes, because like Colorado, California often sets political trends for the rest of the country.