A new national poll shows a clear majority of Americans in favor of legalizing and regulating marijuana – “the strongest support ever recorded,” one pro-marijuana activist tells the Christian Science Monitor. The Rasmussen poll found that 56 percent of respondents favored legalizing and regulating marijuana similar to the way alcohol and tobacco cigarettes are currently regulated. Thirty-six percent were opposed.
Critics have dismissed the survey, saying its questions were asked in a particularly leading fashion – a charge that Rasmussen contests. Experts who track the issue say the poll is consistent with the overall trend of steadily rising acceptance of marijuana use. Despite California's failure to pass Proposition 19 in 2010 – which would have legalized recreational use – some state may legalize marijuana soon, perhaps as early as this November, says Robert MacCoun, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. That means it is time to consider shifting the debate from legalization to consideration of how it should be done, he says.