The October Gallup poll which showed 51 percent of people in support of legalizing marijuana — the first time that was a majority opinion — was big news. A CBS News poll from late October shows only 40 percent of respondents in favor of pure marijuana legalization — with 51 percent saying no to legalization. CBS has been asking the question since 1979, when only 27 percent of folks were for legalization. The last two years have been more or less steady at 40 percent, though there was a high of 44 back in March 2010.
However, 77 percent of respondents are currently in favor of medical marijuana.
Broken down, some unsurprising things pop out of the results; Republicans are less in favor of legalization than Democrats who are more cautious still than Independents; the older you are, the less likely you are to favor legalization. Something more surprising is that apparently respondents are like the Department of Justice when it comes to skepticism about buyers of medical pot:
Just 31 percent of Americans think marijuana purchased under [medical marijuana] programs is being used to alleviate suffering from serious medical illnesses. More than half—52 percent—think it is being used for other reasons, including four in 10 of those who think marijuana should be legal in general.
In more detail, the poll reveals:
• Most women (54%) oppose legalizing marijuana, but men are divided: 46% of men favor legalizing it, while 47% oppose.
• Regionally, support for legalizing marijuana is strongest in the West, a region that includes 10 of the 16 states that have some form of legalized medical marijuana use. 48% of Americans in western states think marijuana use should be legal compared to 45% who think it should not be.