- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A majority of Americans support recent efforts in the country to legalize marijuana, said a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Fifty-five percent would back similar laws to those recently enacted in Colorado and Washington state; 24 percent of Americans do not approve of the laws, but would not actively seek their repeal.

People older than 21 are allowed to buy small quantities of recreational pot for personal use in Colorado and Washington.

Support is largely divided on age and party lines. People between the ages of 18 and 34 support legalizing marijuana by a 49-point margin, while 59 percent of Americans older than 65 oppose it.

By a 34-point margin, Democrats favor legalization, while Republicans oppose it by a 23-point margin. Sixty percent of independents favor legalization, compared to 39 percent who oppose it.

President Obama recent told the New Yorker that he doesn’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, and that it’s important for pot legalization in Colorado and Washington “to go forward, because it’s important for a society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

Still, Mr. Obama said turning marijuana into a legal product raises serious questions that the U.S. must confront.

“I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues,” Mr. Obama said. “If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, ‘Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka.’ Are we open to that? If somebody says, ‘We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth.’ Are we OK with that?”

The poll of 800 adults was conducted from Jan. 22-25 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.