Americans are feeling optimistic about the future of marijuana in the U.S., with a majority predicting legalization to sweep the nation within their lifetimes. According to a new poll from Bloomberg Politics published Friday, 58 percent of Americans see the U.S. legalizing weed in all 50 states within the next 20 years. Twenty-six percent of them said it will happen in just 10.
Researchers found that while most respondents said they saw marijuana legalization as inevitable, nearly a third of those surveyed said it would never happen. The drug remains illegal at the federal level. However, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized weed for medical or recreational purposes.
Public opinion about marijuana legalization has shifted in recent years. In 2006, just 32 percent of Americans said they favored legalizing pot across the country. Today, that figure has jumped to 53 percent, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. Millennials -- people born between 1981 and 1997 -- were the most likely to support legalization efforts, by a margin of 68 percent. Fifty-two percent of Americans born between 1965 and 1980 -- the generation known as Gen X – said they thought weed should be legal in the U.S.
Colorado and Washington were the first states to allow marijuana to be bought and sold like alcohol in 2012. Alaska, Oregon and D.C. legalized recreational pot last year. Legal experts say at least five to seven states are expected to pass new marijuana laws by the end of 2016.
What’s the state that has everyone’s talking? “A lot of eyes are on California,” the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom, told Bloomberg. “It’s very different than almost any other state because of the scale and the magnitude of the change and what it will represent across the country.”
The Bloomberg survey touched on other topics, from gay marriage to legal protections for gays and lesbians. The majority of respondents said they thought same-sex marriage would be legal nationwide within the next 10 years. Seventy-four percent of those polled said they thought sexual orientation should be a protected class like race or religion in laws barring discrimination.
The poll, conducted between April 6 and April 8, surveyed 1,008 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older. The maximum margin of error was calculated at plus or minus 3.1 percent.