- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fifty-seven percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana last year, according to the newly published results of a government-sponsored opinion poll — a historic high point in terms of public support for pot.

The General Social Survey, a polling project primarily funded by the National Science Foundation, has been asking Americans every other year since 1973 if they “think the use of marijuana should be legal.”

While only 19 percent of respondents answered affirmatively when the survey was first conducted over three decades ago, 57 percent replied “yes” when asked last year if weed should be legal, as indicated in newly released data first noticed by The Washington Post this week.

On the heels of surpassing the 50 percent threshold for the first time in 2014, the latest data marks the most support marijuana legalization has received in the history of General Social Survey’s polling, “the gold standard for public opinion research,” according to the Post.

Indeed, the latest data is on par with other recent surveys that have suggested a record number of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana; over two-thirds of the nation’s police officers recently said marijuana should be legal for either personal or medical use, according to a Pew Research poll published in January.

The federal government has continued to categorize marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, however, notwithstanding more than half of the country having passed laws allowing adults to consume cannabis for either recreational or medical purposes.

Voters in California passed the country’s first medical marijuana law in 1996, paving the way for 28 states and the nation’s capital to implement similar measures of their own. Since 2012, meanwhile, laws allowing adults to smoke weed without a prescription have passed in eight states and the District of Columbia.

The results of the latest GSS survey were determined by conducting in-person interviews with a random sample of roughly 1,900 adults.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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