Sixty-five percent of Americans now think marijuana should be legal — a record high in CBS News polling. Most view marijuana as less harmful than alcohol and believe it is less dangerous than other drugs. Many opponents of legalization, however, think it leads to a rise in crime and most favor the federal government taking action to stop the sale of pot in states where it is currently legal.

Support for marijuana legalization has risen among some groups who have long been opposed to the idea. More than half of Republicans (56%) now think marijuana use should be legal — the first time a majority of them has supported it in CBS News Polls. And while older Americans — those ages 65 and over — remain the age group least likely to favor marijuana legalization, slightly more of them now favor it than oppose it.

Legal marijuana’s impact on society

Two-thirds of Americans believe marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs, particularly those who favor legalization. Opponents of legalization are more inclined to believe pot is just as dangerous as other drugs.

As they have for years, and by a wide margin, Americans (51%) say alcohol is more harmful to a person’s health than marijuana (6%). A third say they are equally harmful.

Most Americans think legal marijuana use is a positive for the economy and don’t think it increases violent crime. Fifty-two percent say legalization is good for the local economy, a number that rises to 65% among those who support it. Most proponents of legal marijuana use don’t think it increases crime, but many opponents (49%) think it does.

Legal marijuana: Government and politics

Most Americans (62%) — including most Republicans and Democrats — oppose the federal government taking action to stop the sale of marijuana in states where it is currently legal. But roughly two-thirds of legalization opponents support the government taking such steps.

As a political issue, most Americans (56%) say a presidential candidate’s support for legal marijuana wouldn’t make a difference in their vote — a view that extends across party lines.

On balance, Republicans do say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports marijuana legalization, while Democrats would be more likely to.

Marijuana use: Who’s tried it?

More Americans now say they have tried marijuana than in the history of CBS News polling going back to 1987. Fifty-five percent say they have tried it, up five points from a year ago and a record high. Forty-four percent have not tried it.

More men (61%) than women continue to say they’ve tried marijuana, but the percentage of women who have has inched up to 50%. Two groups whom a majority say they have not tried marijuana: older Americans and conservatives.

This poll was conducted by telephone April 9-14, 2019, among a random sample of 1,010 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cellphones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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