- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2018

Marijuana legalization is favored by nearly six in 10 registered U.S. voters, according to a new poll conducted for Fox News — a record level of support in line with conclusions reached by similar recent surveys involving the plant’s legal status.

Fifty-nine percent of registered voters support legalizing marijuana, up from 46 percent in 2013 and 51 percent in 2015, the poll published Wednesday by Fox News concluded.

Thirty-two percent of registered voters oppose legalizing marijuana, according to poll, down from a record high of 49 percent in 2013, the first year Fox News began asking respondents whether they were for or against legal cannabis.

Roughly two-thirds of Democrats and independents favor marijuana legalization, while Republicans surveyed were split on the subject by a margin of 46-46 percent, the Fox News poll found.

“This is a massive shift in opinion over a very short period,” said Chris Anderson, a Democratic pollster who conducted the survey for Fox News with Republican colleague Daron Shaw. “As more states legalize marijuana without the negative consequences opponents have warned about, support will likely continue to increase,” he said.

A differently worded question presented by pollsters in 2001 — “Do you think smoking marijuana should be made legal, or not?” — was overwhelmingly opposed by 66 percent of respondents when Fox News asked around the turn of the century.

Opinions on marijuana have changed substantially in the 17 years since, however, evidenced by the passing of recreational and medical cannabis laws throughout the country in the interim, as well as conclusions reached by similar surveys undertaken recently by Gallup and Quinnipiac, albeit notwithstanding the federal government’s ongoing prohibition on pot.

California became the first state in the country to legalize medical marijuana in defiance of federal law in 1996, and 28 others and the nation’s capital have since followed suit. Nine states and D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana in recent years starting with Colorado in 2012, meanwhile, including six where adults can legally buy cannabis from retail dispensaries.

The Obama administration issued guidance in 2013 advising the Department of Justice against enforcing federal marijuana law in states that legalized the plant, but President Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rescinded that policy last month effectively immediately.

Sixty-four percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to the results of a Gallup poll released in October, and a Quinnipiac University poll published after Mr. Session’s announcement last month found that 70 percent of respondents opposed the federal government interfering in states with legal cannabis.

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