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Support for marijuana legalization hits all-time high (again)

About 58 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, according to a new Gallup poll released Wednesday.

About 58 percent of Americans now support marijuana legalization. Gallup

This is an all-time high in support, but it actually ties with the levels of support Gallup found in 2013. Marijuana legalization advocates cautioned back in 2013 that the 2013 poll was probably an outlier, since other polling organizations — like the Pew Research Center — found lower levels of support for legalization. (This year, Pew put support at 53 percent.)

Support for legalization has been steadily climbing for decades, driven largely by more support among younger Americans. According to Gallup, 71 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 now back pot legalization.

Younger Americans are much more likely to support marijuana legalization. Gallup

These polls are particularly pertinent since it's a presidential election year. None of the presidential candidates have endorsed legalization, although Bernie Sanders suggested in the first Democratic debate that he would likely support legalization if it came to a vote in his state's ballot. That puts Sanders not just to the left of Hillary Clinton on pot, but also closer to the Democratic base — Gallup and Pew have found that around six in 10 Democrats back legalization — and, increasingly, to all Americans.

But more than the political party breakdown, it's the age breakdown that matters to legalization advocates. Since younger Americans increasingly tend to back legalizing marijuana, many advocates feel it's only a matter of time until the country legalizes pot as young people grow up and vote. For advocates, then, it's more about how and when to legalize, rather than if.

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