Majority favors pot legalization, 49 percent say they’ve tried the drug

The Wisconsin Gazette

About 53 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legalized, according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center.

The analysis shows that 53 percent support legalization and 44 percent support keeping use of the drug illegal.

The shift in public opinion occurred between 2011, when 45 percent supported legalization, and 2013, when 52 percent said they supported legalization.

The survey also looked at public opinion on the issue by gender, race and political persuasion and found:

• 57 percent of men and 49 percent of women support legalization.

• 55 percent of whites, 58 percent of blacks and 40 percent of Hispanics support legalization.

• 68 percent of millennials, 52 percent of Gen Xers, 50 percent of Boomers and 29 percent of the Silent generation support legalization.

• 58 percent of college graduates and 47 percent of high school graduates support legalization.

• 39 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 59 percent of Democrats support legalization.

Asked whether federal authorities should enforce U.S. marijuana laws in states that legalized use, 59 percent said no. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents agreed on that issue.

Asked “If marijuana were legal, would it bother you if” and given several scenarios, people were more likely to be bothered by pot use in public than anywhere else:

• 62 percent said they’d be bothered if people used marijuana in public.

• 41 percent said they’d be bothered by a business selling marijuana in their neighborhood.

• 15 percent said they’d be bothered by use in their homes.

On the question of personal use, just 49 percent of people surveyed said they’d ever tried marijuana. Women are less likely to say they’ve tried marijuana than men.

Generationally, the members of the Silent generation — 70-87 years old — were far more likely to say they’ve never tried the drug. About 81 percent of older Americans and 48 percent of millennials say they’ve never tried marijuana.