When it comes to marijuana, the majority of young Republicans are far closer to the Democrat view than they are to older members of their own party, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey
Younger Republicans support making the use of marijuana legal by a margin of 63 percent to 35 percent, according to a Pew survey released on Feb. 27, and those views have changed little since the question was asked in October.
More members of Generation X (47 percent) back legalization than those in the baby boomer generation (38 percent), but both lag the level of support among younger Democrats.
Of the Democrats surveyed, 77 percent of Democratic millennials favor legal marijuana use, as well as 66 percent of baby boomers, and 61 percent of those who fall into Generation X.
Millennials, according to Pew, are those born between 1981 and 1996, Generation X between 1965 and 1980, and boomers between 1946 and 1964.
"The debate over marijuana
also comes ahead of the 2016 presidential election, when both political parties are fighting over the coveted millennial vote as this group of eligible voters swells in size, even if its members do not consistently show up on Election Day," says Pew Research Center analyst George Gao.
A straw poll taken during last week's Conservative Political Action Committee
(CPAC) convention found that 41 percent believe marijuana should be legalized for recreational purposes, while slightly fewer respondents (21 percent) support legalization only for medicinal purposes and 31 percent said pot should remain illegal.
But the issue remains a point of disagreement, as was apparent during a panel discussion between former New York Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson at CPAC, reports The Blaze
While Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who won the conference's straw poll for the third consecutive year, has long backed decriminalization, some potential presidential candidates appeared to shift their view on marijuana.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told the gathering that he favored allowing states to decide for themselves, a view that seemed inconsistent with his criticism of the Obama Justice Department for not vigorously enforcing the federal ban on marijuana, notes Reason magazine
The growing support for legalizing pot among younger Republicans reflects a national trend which shows a growing movement toward liberalization of drug laws, according to Pew's long-term survey trends.
While support varies among generations, it also shifts according to ethnic groups.
According to Pew
, 63 percent of black voters support legalization, compared to 52 percent of whites and 49 percent of Hispanics.
The national trend also is reflected in polling data gathered over the years by Gallup.
In 1969, just 12 percent backed legalization, but that swelled to 50 percent in 2011, and last year was the first time Gallup found
a solid majority in favor, at 58 percent.
The more liberal views on marijuana legalization reflect the attitudes younger voters have concerning same-sex marriage
. A Pew survey conducted last year found 61 percent of self-identified Republicans under 30 favored allowing gay marriage, as did 77 percent of Democrats in the same age group.
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