A new Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana.
For the first time, Gallup also found that a majority of Republicans have joined the majority of Democrats and independents in supporting legalization. They have been putting out the same poll since 1969 when only 12% of Americans backed legalization.More news: James B. Comey Tweets for the First Time in Months
This year for the first time, a majority of Republicans express support for legalizing marijuana; the current 51% is up nine percentage points from last year.
Voters in eight states have passed initiatives regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol, and marijuana is legal for adults in the nation's capital.
Seventy-two percent of Democrats support legalizing marijuana at the federal level, and a majority have supported legalization since 2009. Gallup attributes the growing consensus to "efforts to legalize marijuana at the state level" and the success that followed.More news: Bay Area weather: A chance for record-high temperatures
"As public support for ending marijuana prohibition continues to grow, it is crucial that states continue to be given the freedom to serve as laboratories of democracy". The margin of error is 4 percentage points. "On both issues, about a quarter supported legalization in the late 1990s, and today 64% favor each", Gallup writes in its analysis of the poll.
The increase in legalization support comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican who has frequently criticized the use of marijuana, hasn't yet announced whether he'll continue to abide by more lenient Obama-era guidance and avoid enforcing federal law in states that have legalized the drug. "Rank-and-file Republicans' views on the issue have evolved just as Democrats' and independents' have".
Legal marijuana now has equal support to gay marriage among Americans, Gallup notes. "This is a clear mandate for the legislature to enact sensible marijuana laws to help the state create a workable budget".More news: ESPN Cancels "Barstool Van Talk" After Just One Episode
"Marijuana policy liberalization over the past 20 years has certainly been associated with increased marijuana use; however, policy changes appear to have occurred in response to changing attitudes within states and to have effects on attitudes and behaviors more generally in the U.S." the study stated. Sessions has repeatedly criticized marijuana legalization, according to Forbes.