A new poll says that 51 percent of Americans support legal marijuana for recreational use. This comes a month after two states became the first to do just that.
According to a Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday, 51 percent of voters support legalizing pot for recreational use, with 44 percent opposed. The poll continues an upward trend of acceptance, with legal pot breaking the 50 percent threshold in a Gallup poll last year. In 1969, support was only 12 percent.
The trend will likely test Congress. For now, federal law puts marijuana in the same class as heroin and cocaine, but evolving national opinion as well as the growing patchwork of recreational and medical marijuana laws in states nationwide could pressure Washington into a more nuanced position.
The dramatic change in public opinion, experts say, has been driven by pop culture and generational shifts, and also a simple reality. While pot is illegal, it is common at parties and concerts. And despite warnings from anti-drug warriors, its impact on society has not been seen as disastrous, they say. In other words, American's don't associate pot with images of junkies zonked out on street corners.