Poll finds record high support for marijuana legalization

A record high number of Americans, 65 percent, believe that marijuana should be legalized, according to a CBS News poll released Friday.

Most Americans believe marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and other drugs, and support for legalizing pot has grown among groups that have historically been opposed to the idea.

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About 56 percent of Republicans say they support legalization, the first time a majority of the group has supported the proposal in CBS News polls. Nearly half, 49 percent, of Americans aged 65 and older, a demographic historically opposed to marijuana legalization, also now support ending the prohibition on cannabis.

A majority of Americans also believe legalizing weed wouldn’t have negative impacts on the economy or crime rates. About 52 percent believe legalization would be good for local economies, while a combined 70 percent believe it would either decrease violent crime or not have much effect on crime rates.

Despite the rising support for pot legalization, most Americans say a candidate’s platform on marijuana would be unlikely to influence them in 2020.

About 56 percent of Americans said it would make “no difference” to them if a candidate supported legalizing weed. About 21 percent of Americans said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who backed the idea, and another 21 percent said they would be less likely to do so. 

The issue, however, has received attention in the Democratic presidential primary, where several candidates back expunging past marijuana convictions as part of broad criminal justice reform.

SSRS conducted the poll on behalf of CBS News. It surveyed 1,010 adults nationwide from April 9 to 14, and the poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.