Marijuana Poll Finds Majority Support Legalization

04/19/2013 09:01 am ET | Updated Apr 19, 2013

A clear majority of Americans say that marijuana should be made legal if it will be taxed and regulated like alcohol, even though few say they use marijuana themselves, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

According to the new survey, 51 percent of Americans say that marijuana should be "legalized, taxed, and regulated like alcohol." A much smaller percentage (6 percent) say that the drug should be legalized, but not taxed and regulated. Only 33 percent of respondents said marijuana should not be legalized at all, and 10 percent said they weren't sure.

The percentage of Americans in the new survey saying that they want to legalize marijuana is somewhat higher than on most other polls, perhaps because the question specified that marijuana could be legalized and "taxed and regulated like alcohol," while most other surveys ask if marijuana should be legal or illegal without qualifiers. But a recent Pew Research Center survey also found that a majority of Americans support legal marijuana.

In the new Huffpost/YouGov poll, a combined 70 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents, but only 37 percent of Republicans, said that they thought marijuana should be legalized either with or without taxes and regulations.

But most respondents to the survey, regardless of political party, said they think marijuana will eventually be legal throughout the U.S., although they disagreed on when that may happen. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that marijuana will be legal nationally within the next 10 years, while another 37 percent said that it will be legal eventually, but not that soon. Only 11 percent said that marijuana will never be legal. Those who said that it will be legal either within the next 10 years or eventually include 80 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and 69 percent of Republicans.

Few respondents said that they currently smoke it themselves. Eighty-six percent said that they never smoke marijuana. Ten percent reported using marijuana at least rarely, including 3 percent who use it frequently, 3 percent who use it occasionally, and 4 percent who use it rarely. An additional 3 percent said they preferred not to share how often, if ever, they used marijuana.

Even among respondents who said that they never use marijuana, a combined 54 percent said marijuana should be legal either with taxes and regulations (48 percent), or without (6 percent).

Although the vast majority of Americans say they don't currently use marijuana, about three in 10 have either been arrested for marijuana possession or know someone who has been. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said that they know somebody who has been arrested for marijuana possession, and 2 percent said they they have been arrested. Fifty-four percent said that they didn't know anyone who had been arrested for marijuana possession, 13 percent said that they didn't know if they did, and 2 percent said they preferred not to say.

Even among those who never use marijuana these days, 26 percent said that they know someone who has been arrested for marijuana possession, and 1 percent said they were at some point arrested for possession.

Not surprisingly, given that few respondents said that they currently smoke marijuana, only 2 percent said that they plan to light up in celebration of 4/20 day this year. Another 4 percent said that they may. Sixty-six percent of respondents said that they would not be smoking marijuana that day, and another 26 percent said they had no idea why they would be asked if they were going to celebrate April 20 by smoking marijuana.

Among those who currently never smoke marijuana, no respondents said that they plan to smoke it to celebrate April 20 -- but 1 percent said that they may.

The poll was conducted April 16 and April 17 among 1,000 adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

Also on HuffPost:

Legal Marijuana Across The U.S.

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