For the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1969, a clear majority of Americans supports legalizing marijuana.
(USA Today)-- Fueled by political independents and legalization in Colorado and Washington, a solid majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal, the first time that's happened since Gallup began polling on the question during the Vietnam War.
Since November 2012, support has jumped 10 percentage points, with 58% calling for legalization, Gallup announced Tuesday. Opposition fell to 39%, led by Republicans and older Americans.
Americans 65 and older are the only age group that still object to making the drug legal. But support among that group has nonetheless jumped 14 percentage points in the past two years.
Support for legalization is strongest among Americans 18 to 29 years old - 67% - and Democrats - 65%. Independents showed the most movement in the past year, with 62% favoring legalization in the latest poll compared with 50% in 2012. Only 35% of Republicans approve.
Clear majorities among 30- to 64-year-olds also back making pot legal.
That's in stark contrast to Gallup's first poll on the issue, in 1969, when only 12% of Americans favored legalization.
It has been a long path toward majority acceptance of marijuana over the past 44 years, but Americans' support for legalization accelerated as the new millennium began. This acceptance of a substance that most people might have considered forbidden in the late 1960s and 1970s may be attributed to changing social mores and growing social acceptance. The increasing prevalence of medical marijuana as a socially acceptable way to alleviate symptoms of diseases such as arthritis, and as a way to mitigate side effects of chemotherapy, may have also contributed to Americans' growing support.
"it is clear that interest in this drug and these issues will remain elevated in the foreseeable future," Gallup writes.