Poll: Just Over Half Still Oppose Legalizing Pot

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

Advocates of marijuana use may be calling for the drug's legalization today on "4/20," but most Americans disagree with them, a new nationwide CBS News poll finds.

While 44 percent of Americans support the idea of making marijuana use legal, 51 percent oppose it, according to the poll, conducted March 29 - April 1.

The percentage supporting legalization is similar to what it was last summer, but it has grown from 30 years ago when just 27 percent thought the use of marijuana should be made legal.

A similar Associated Press-CNBC poll released today found that only 33 percent of Americans favor legalization while 55 percent oppose it.

Californians will get to vote on a ballot initiative this November that, if passed, would legalize marijuana in the state, making it the first state in the nation to do so. The measure would permit those age 21 and over to possess small amounts of marijuana, and the sale of it would be regulated and taxed by local governments.

Age impacts views on the legalization of marijuana, the CBS News poll finds. A majority of Americans under age 35 (54 percent) favors legalization, while older Americans are opposed. Among those age 65 and over, six in 10 are against making the use of marijuana legal.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Marijuana Nation
Crimesider Blog: Register What You Think About Marijuana Legalization

Geography matters as well. Support for legalizing marijuana is greatest in the West (55 percent) - the only region where a majority backs legalization. Americans in the Midwest and South are the least likely groups to favor legalizing marijuana use.

Sixty-nine percent of liberals favor making the use of marijuana legal, while both moderates and conservatives are opposed to the idea.

When it comes to political party, 50 percent of Democrats back legalization while 60 percent of Republicans are against it.

Men and women hold similar views, with women a bit more likely than men to oppose the idea of legalizing marijuana.

 DEMOGRAPHICS: SHOULD THE USE OF MARIJUANA BE MADE LEGAL?
  Yes No Don't Know
Total 45% 51% 5%

Under Age 35 54% 44% 2%
Age 35 and Over 38% 55% 7%

Age 65 and Over 29% 61% 10%

Men 45% 49% 6%
Women 42% 53% 5%

Northeast 44% 52% 4%
Midwest 36% 54% 10%
South 40% 55% 5%
West 55% 41% 4%

Liberal 69% 28% 3%
Moderate 36% 58% 6%
Conservative 36% 59% 5%

Republicans 36% 60% 4%
Democrats 50% 45% 5%
Independents 43% 50% 7%


Read the Complete CBS News poll


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 858 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone March 29- April 1, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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