Gallup finds first-time majority support for legalizing marijuana

Fifty percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana and only 46 percent are against, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

That’s the highest amount on record since Gallup first began tracking the issue — up from 46 percent one year ago.

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Support for legalization only climbed from 28 percent in the late 1970s to 36 percent in 2006, but the movement has picked up steam over the last five years.

Liberals and young Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 were the most likely to support legalization, while conservatives and those over the age of 65 were the most likely to be against it.

Gallup found that even more Americans – 70 percent — are in favor of legalizing doctor-prescribed marijuana to reduce pain and suffering in patients.

While public support for legalization is trending upwards, the Department of Justice is continuing to crack down on marijuana dispensaries that are operating legally in some states. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors sent letters to dispensaries in California warning them they had 45 days to shut down or face criminal charges.

“Under United States law, a dispensary’s operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions,” reads a letter signed by a U.S. attorney. “Real and personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States ... regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary.”

In September, the administration launched a “We the People” petition pledging to evaluate any proposal that received 5,000 signatures within 30 days. The petition to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol currently has 57,136 signatures.