As in the past, there are wide generational and partisan differences in views of marijuana legalization. Majorities of Millennials (70%), Gen Xers (66%) and Baby Boomers (56%) say the use of marijuana should be legal. Only among the Silent Generation does a greater share oppose (58%) than favor (35%) marijuana legalization.
Nearly seven-in-ten Democrats say marijuana use should be legal, as do 65% of independents. By contrast, just 43% of Republicans favor marijuana legalization, while 55% are opposed.
While both parties are divided along age lines in views of marijuana legalization, the differences are especially stark among Republicans.
Sizable majorities of Democrats and Democratic leaners younger than 40 (79%) and 40 to 64 (70%) favor marijuana legalization. Older Democrats – those 65 and older – are more divided (50% favor legalization, 42% oppose it).
The growing public support for legal marijuana comes as more states have legalized the drug for recreational purposes. This week, stores in California began selling recreational marijuana after voters legalized the practice in a November 2016 ballot measure. Seven other states and the District of Columbia have also legalized the drug for recreational purposes. Meanwhile, 29 states – plus the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico – have legalized the drug for medical purposes.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week announced that the Justice Department may step up enforcement in jurisdictions that have legalized the drug.