12/10/2012 05:37 pm ET

Marijuana Poll: Federal Government Shouldn't Interfere With State Laws, Americans Say

Colorado's new marijuana law became official Monday, and most Americans say the state should have the right to decide its own marijuana policy, polling shows.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) had opposed his state's measure to legalize marijuana, but as he officially signed it into law, he said that Colorado agencies would begin working immediately to implement the changes. "Voters were loud and clear on Election Day," he said.

The rest of the country apparently agrees with him. A third of adults nationally said the federal government should take steps to enforce anti-marijuana laws even in states where marijuana is legal, but 64 percent said the federal government shouldn't step in, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

Even among those who opposed legalizing marijuana, a sizable fraction -- 43 percent -- opposed any federal action.

A HuffPost/YouGov poll last week found similar results. More than half of Americans said that the federal government should exempt adults who follow state marijuana laws from enforcement. Exemptions for medical marijuana garnered wider support, with 58 percent agreeing that patients should be exempted in states where medical use is permitted.

More broadly, views on the legality of marijuana remain about evenly divided, according to Gallup, which noted a stark change from earlier decades, when legalization was overwhelmingly opposed. The firm doesn't ask specifically about state or federal level legalization.

Federal officials are still weighing their response to propositions passed in Colorado and Washington that legalize marijuana in those states.

In the meantime, smokers have publicly celebrated the new laws without repercussions, so far. A gathering under Seattle's Space Needle was met only with a friendly police request to keep things indoors.

"[T]he police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a Lord of the Rings marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to," Seattle police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee advised on the department's website.

The USA Today/Gallup poll surveyed 1,015 adults by phone between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29, with a 4 percent margin of error.