Public support for marijuana legalization surged in 2016, according to data just released from the General Social Survey.
Last year 57 percent of Americans told the survey's pollsters that they “think the use of marijuana should be legal,” up from 52 percent in 2014.
The numbers from the General Social Survey — a large nationwide survey conducted every two years and widely considered to represent the gold standard for public opinion research — comport with other national surveys last year, which found support ranging from the upper 50s to low 60s.
But the survey indicates two significant fault lines when it comes to marijuana policy: age and political party. Fully two-thirds of respondents ages 18 to 34 supported legalization in the survey, as well as majorities of those ages 35 to 49 and 50 to 64. But seniors 65 and older stood apart, with only 42 percent supporting legalization.
On the other hand, support among all age groups has risen by similar amounts in recent years. In 2008, for instance, only 40 percent of the youngest respondents and just over 21 percent of seniors supported marijuana legalization.
Breaking the numbers down by political affiliation tells a slightly different story. In the early 2000s, opposition to marijuana legalization was more or less a bipartisan issue. Only 29 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Republicans voiced support for legal weed in 2000.