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Support for legalizing marijuana reaches all time high

by Jorge Hernandez on October 18, 2011

Results of a recent Gallup poll show that a surprising amount of Americans are in support of legalizing marijuana. A record high of 50 percent of respondents said they were in favor of smoking for recreational purposes, topping the previous high of 46 percent a year ago, Reuters reports.

Despite strong showing, there were stark differences along both party and age lines. Specifically, 69 percent of liberals were in favor of legalizing the drug while just 34 percent of conservatives said they would support it.

The figures have risen sharply over the last 40 years or so. In 1969 there was only 12 percent support for legalization and even in the last decade the numbers of increased dramatically, as 30 percent came out in favor of it in 2000.

"If this current trend on legalizing marijuana continues, pressure may build to bring the nation's laws into compliance with the people's wishes," authors of the study wrote, according to the news agency.

Despite the growing public support for legalizing the drug for recreational purposes, it hasn't stopped federal officials from going after places that already distributed legally for medicinal reasons. In California, prosecutors have threatened to shut down medicinal marijuana dispensaries because they say they are not paying taxes, the Sonoma State Star reports. Many purveyors feel that the industry should be regulated rather than just shut down.

"There are so many growers breaking the law. What do you expect the government to do in this situation? This needs to be turned around into a normal industry," shop owner Mark Gustley told the news source.

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