A majority of Americans now favor legislation that would legalize marijuana for personal use, according to a new survey.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals that 55 percent of Americans support measures
similar to those enacted in Colorado and Washington allowing people over 21 to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
Another 24 percent of the 800 respondents in the survey said that while they were not willing to support the legalization of marijuana, they would not push to have new laws repealed if approved by voters or state legislatures.
The survey conducted Jan 22-25, however, indicated there is still a great difference of opinion on legalization when it comes to political parties, age, gender, and race.
Democrats, for example, mainly support the legalization of marijuana by a 34-point margin while most Republicans oppose it by a 23-point margin. Meanwhile, 63 percent of independents favor it over 39 percent opposed to it.
The study shows that men support more relaxed marijuana laws compared to women, with 59 percent of men favoring legalization compared to 51 percent of women.
Breaking it down along racial lines, African-Americans favor legalization by a 19-point margin, compared to a 17-point margin among Hispanics and a 6-point margin among whites.
According to NBC News, the numbers "reflect a gradual sea change" in the public's view toward marijuana use and the laws controlling its sale.
Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the sale of marijuana for personal use last year, and now the District of Columbia, along with California, Arizona, and Oregon are planning their own voter-driven initiatives
to legalize the drug.
Outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry also opened the door last week to more relaxed laws
regarding the use of the drug. He told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that he is slowly implementing policies to decriminalize the drug, although he's not yet prepared to legalize it.
President Barack Obama also appeared to support a softening of marijuana laws
when he said earlier this month that the drug is no more dangerous than alcohol.
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