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Most Americans Support the Legalization of Marijuana

Update Date: Apr 05, 2013 12:00 PM EDT

For the first time in 40 years, more than 50 percent of Americans said that marijuana should be legalized.

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found 52 percent of Americans support legalized pot, a 30 percent increase since 1969, when only 12 percent supported the legalization of marijuana.

The survey contacted 1,501 adults nationwide by landline or mobile phone between March 13 and March 17. There is a survey error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.

Researchers found that support for marijuana legalization has risen among every age demographic, according to Live Science. Millennials born after 1980 are the most supportive, with 65 percent surveying that pot should be legal.  Fifty-four percent of Generation-Xers, born between 1965 and 1980, also support the legalization of marijuana, up 28 percent since 1994.

In 1978, 47 percent of Baby Boomers were in favor of legalizing pot, which has now climbed three percentage points. Baby Boomers were less supportive of legalization in the 1980s and hit a low 17 percent support in 1990.

Older generations are less in favor of removing marijuana laws. Of the Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1942, 32 percent supported legalizing marijuana. Fourteen percent of the Greatest Generation, born before 1924, favored legalization.

While only 12 percent of surveyors said they have used marijuana in the past year, a total of 48 percent of Americans said they have tried marijuana, a 10 percent increase since a decade ago.

Smoking marijuana has become less of a moral issue and more of a cost issue. Only 32 percent of Americans said smoking marijuana is morally wrong, an 18 percent decrease since 2006. Meanwhile, 72 percent of Americans said enforcing marijuana laws costs more than it's worth.

Political views also play a role in the support of legalizing marijuana with 59 percent of Democrats in support compared to 37 percent of Republicans. However, members of both parties agree the federal government should not enforce marijuana laws in states where it has been legalized. In Colorado and Washington state, small amounts of marijuana have been legalized for personal use, while a total of 18 states across the country have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes. 

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