WASHINGTON: Support for legalisation of marijuana has risen to nearly 60 per cent among US adults, according to a study published on Wednesday (Oct 12), marking a near reversal of attitudes held only a decade ago.
More relaxed views about marijuana have led around two dozen states to allow legal access of some type of the drug and more US states are set to vote on marijuana related measures on Nov 8.
The Pew Research Centre found that 57 per cent of adults in the United States said the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37 per cent said it should be illegal.
Ten years ago, just 32 per cent of adults favoured legalisation, while 60 per cent were opposed to it.
Opinions on marijuana are divided starkly along political party lines, the poll from the Washington-based centre found, with Democrats supporting legalising marijuana over having it be illegal by more than two-to-one.
Sixty-six per cent of Democrats favour legalising marijuana while 30 per cent believe it should be illegal.
Among Republicans, 41 per cent favour legalisation and 55 per cent are opposed to it, according to the poll, which drew responses from 1,201 US adults.
Five US states – Massachusetts, Maine, California, Arizona and Nevada – will vote on Nov 8 on whether to legalise recreational use of marijuana. Four other states are voting on access to medical marijuana.
Two human rights groups on Wednesday called on US states and the federal government to decriminalise possession of marijuana for personal use, citing the damage done by more than 574,000 arrests for marijuana possession each year.
Among US voters, Liberal Democrats were most in favor of marijuana legalisation, with 78 per cent supporting it, according to the Pew study. Millennial adults between the ages of 18 and 35 are the age group most in favor of legalisation with 71 per cent in support.
Within the Republican party, there is a sharp contrast between moderate and liberal Republicans and their more conservative counterparts, according to the poll.
Sixty-three per cent of moderate and liberal Republicans are in favor of legalisation. Just 33 per cent of conservative Republicans share this view, with 62 per cent saying marijuana should be illegal.
Some 24 states and Washington, DC, currently allow some type of medical marijuana use, and a handful of states allow its recreational use.