The General Social Survey found that 52% said they are in favor of decriminalizing pot, a change from previous years.
“We’ve been measuring public attitudes toward legalization of marijuana since the 1970s. In 2012, you have a plurality of Americans against legalization. Now, in 2014, you have a majority in favor of legalization,” GSS director Tom Smith told Yahoo News.
The shift in attitude represents how Americans have been evolving in their thinking about marijuana, with an increasing number favoring legalization, and that is also reflected in the growing number of states that have approved referendums and laws designed to take the stigma and criminality away from pot. The complete opposite was true in 1973 – the first year of the GSS survey—where only 19 percent said they supported legalization.
There still is a fair amount of people undecided about the issue, says Smith, especially when it comes to medical marijuana. The GSS survey found 10% considered themselves undecided. “It shows how attitudes are in flux. They’re just not sure,” said Smith. “They might think medical marijuana is OK, but not further than that.”
Supporters of legalization say the shift in attitude means that more people are realizing that marijuana is not as harmful as other drugs and shouldn’t be classified with those.
“Hopefully their elected officials are paying attention and preparing for the inevitable,” said Morgan Fox, communications manager with the Marijuana Policy Project. "The failures of marijuana prohibition are too obvious to ignore forever, which is evidenced by the growing support for ending it."