Support for legalizing marijuana has reached a record high among U.S. voters, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
Sixty-three percent of U.S. voters support federal legalizing marijuana, compared to only 33 percent opposed, Quinnipiac pollsters concluded after surveying 1,193 people this week.
“Voters are more favorable to legalizing marijuana than in any previous Quinnipiac University survey,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
The highest level of support for marijuana legalization recorded by Quinnipiac prior to this week’s polling was 61 percent in August 2017.
Other polls have similarly detected an uptick in support with respect to legalizing marijuana in the months since, including a Gallup survey conducted last October that found that 64 percent of Americans including 51 percent of Republicans favor legal weed — the highest level of public support from either demographic ever recorded by Gallup, the pollster said previously.
Marijuana is illegal under federal law and categorized as a Schedule 1 substance akin to heroin, though 29 states and counting have passed legislation permitting the plant for recreational or medicinal purposes, including six with systems in place for regulating, taxing and selling weed: Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.
The Department of Justice advised federal prosecutors during the Obama administration against pursuing marijuana cases in states that permit the plant, but President Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rescinded those policies in January.
Seventy percent of respondents told Quinnipiac this week that they oppose the DOJ enforcing federal anti-marijuana laws in states where the plant is permitted for recreational or medical purposes, according to Quinnipiac — the exact level of opposition recorded by pollsters when they asked the same question shortly after Mr. Session rescinded the Obama-era protections in January.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents — 74 percent — said they would support a bill shielding legal marijuana states from federal prosecution, according to Quinnipiac.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, recently said he’d support states’ right to legalize marijuana, according to Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican.
“President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for al,” Mr. Gardner said in a statement last week after meeting Mr. Trump.
Mr. Gardner’s statement was “accurate,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday, adding that Mr. Trump “is a firm believer” in states’ rights.