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Weed, the People: America is Embracing Marijuana

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on November 17, 2011 5:48 AM

Support for legalizing marijuana is growing, if recent statistics are any indication. According to a survey conducted by Gallup, 50% of Americans say that marijuana should be legal.

This is up from 46% last year. And, historical trends show that in 1969 only 12% of Americans favored legalizing marijuana.

What else do Americans think about marijuana? 

  • Marijuana support highest among younger Americans: 62% of 18 to 29-year-olds favored legalization. Only 31% of those older than 65 approved.
  • Support is also divided amongst political lines. Democrats and independent voters are more likely than Republicans to support legalization. Liberals are twice as more likely compared to conservatives.
  • Men more likely than women support legalization: 55% of men support the drug, versus 46% of women.
  • West more likely to support drug: About 55% of those residing in the West and 54% in the Midwest support legalization. In the South, only 44% supported legalization. The East came in at 55%.

It seems support for the drug is steadily growing. Yet states that legalize pot are doing so in conflict with federal laws.

The Supreme Court has specifically upheld marijuana's illegality, even for medical purposes.

This hasn't stopped states from passing legislation on the matter. In fact, 16 states so far have passed medical marijuana laws. State medical marijuana laws vary widely. Different jurisdictions allow for different possession amounts, but typically medial marijuana is only allowed for those who suffer from a debilitating condition or disease.

But while marijuana may be legal under some state laws, it is still illegal under federal law. This means that users can still be arrested and prosecuted for using the drug even if marijuana is legal in the state -- and even though support for legalizing marijuana is growing. When there are conflicts between state and federal law, federal law prevails.

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