43% Say Marijuana Should Be Legalized, 42% Disagree

Americans are evenly divided over whether marijuana should be legalized in the United States, but most expect it to happen within the next decade.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Adults nationally shows 43% believe marijuana should be legalized. But 42% think it should remain an illegal drug. Another 15% are not sure.

These results show a slight shift toward legalization fromFebruary of last year.

However, 65% believe it is at least somewhat likely marijuana will be legalized in the United States in the next 10 years. Just 28% do not expect this to happen. Those numbers include 29% who say it is Very Likely pot will be legal in the next 10 years and five percent (5%) who say it is Not At All Likely.

In the latest survey, voters were simply asked whether or not they believed marijuana should be legalized. Voters were more divided on this question than they were in May of last year, when asked whether the drug should be legalized and taxed. At that time, 41% favored the idea of legalizing and taxing marijuana, while 49% were opposed.

Several cash-strapped states have been considering legalizing and taxing the drug in order to generate more revenue. In both Colorado and California, 49% of voters support legalizing and taxing the drug.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on July 21-22, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Americans are much more supportive of adults being allowed to smoke marijuana if it is prescribed by a physician. Seventy-five percent (75%) support medicinal marijuana use, while only 14% say patients should not be allowed to smoke doctor-prescribed pot. Support for medical marijuana is even higher than it was in October, when 63% said it should be allowed.

Forty percent (40%) of Adults admit to smoking marijuana at some time in their lives, but 55% say they have never tried it. Only 11% say they have smoked pot in the last year, while 86% say they haven’t.

Men are more supportive than women of legalizing marijuana. Most (61%) of those who have smoked marijuana at least once in their lives support legalizing it.

While half of Democrats (51%) support legalizing marijuana, 62% of Republicans are opposed. Voters not affiliated with either major political party lean toward legalization by a 48% to 35% margin.

Polling last year found that 54% of voters think illegal drug use is primarily a criminal justice issue rather than a matter of public health.

Last April, 30% said U.S. drug users were more to blame than Mexican drug producers for the escalating violence along the countries’ border. But  56% said the drug producers were more to blame.

– Article from Rasmussen Reports.