Broad Public Support For Legalizing Medical Marijuana

With a growing number of states moving to legalize medical marijuana, nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they favor their state allowing the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes if it is prescribed by a doctor, while 23% are opposed. Support for legalizing medical marijuana spans all major political and demographic groups, and is equally high in states that have and have not already passed laws on this issue.

There are public concerns about legalizing medical marijuana. For example, 45% say they would be very or somewhat concerned if a store that sold medical marijuana opened near other stores in their area. And roughly the same percentage (46%) says allowing medical marijuana makes it easier for people to get marijuana even if they don't have a real medical need – though just 26% of Americans say this is something that concerns them. These concerns are highest among opponents of legalizing medical marijuana, but are no higher or lower in states that already allow marijuana for medical purposes.

Far more Americans favor allowing marijuana for prescribed medical purposes than support a general legalization of marijuana. But the proportion supporting legalizing marijuana use has continued to rise over the past two decades.

The most recent national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 10-14 among 1,500 adults on landlines and cell phones, finds that 41% of the public thinks the use of marijuana should be made legal while 52% do not. In 2008, 35% said it should be legal and 57% said the use of marijuana should not be legal, according to data from the General Social Survey. Twenty years ago, only 16% of the public said the use of marijuana should be legal and 81% said it should not be legal.

Read the full report Broad Public Support For Legalizing Medical Marijuana on the Pew Research Center's Web site.

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