55% Favor Marijuana Legalization in California

The majority of Californians now favor legalizing marijuana for the first time ever, according to a new Field Poll.

The survey, which includes responses from 1,002 registered Californian voters between Nov. 14 and Dec. 5, found that 55% now favor legalization.

Just 31% said they support strict enforcement of the current laws or the passing of tougher laws governing marijuana. Another 12% said they support the current ban on recreational cannabis but believe the government should ease penalties.

The results show just how much attitudes about cannabis have changed in California, which bodes well for efforts to legalize the drug next year.

When the Field Poll first asked California voters about marijuana in 1969, 75% of respondents said they wanted the state’s cannabis laws strictly enforced. Just 13% favored marijuana legalization that year.

Not surprisingly, marijuana legalization is now especially popular among younger residents. The poll found that 64% of those ages 18-49 support legalization, while 47% of those 65 and up back it.

Cannabis supporters have submitted three separate legalization initiatives with the state. Two of them would put to the question to voters in November of next year, while organizers behind the third are trying to decide whether to aim for 2014 or 2016.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is currently the chair of a panel is looking at legalization, said the poll shows a “growing consensus to move on this in 2014 and not wait until 2016, and that’s a big shift even from six months ago.”

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