SAN FRANCISCO -- A new survey released Tuesday reveals that a majority of American parents support medical marijuana legalization, and nearly half support legalization for recreational use.
Perhaps more surprising is the unexpected author of the study: The Partnership at Drugfree.org, one of the harshest critics of drug use in the nation.
In the survey, titled "Marijuana: It's Legal, Now What?" the Partnership addresses the growing acceptance of marijuana in the country.
"With marijuana now legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington State, for medical use in 18 states and the District of Columbia, and effectively decriminalized in 14 states, it's clear that society's approach to marijuana is changing dramatically," the authors wrote.
Seventy percent of respondents said they favor medical marijuana legalization, 52 percent favor marijuana decriminalization and 42 percent favor legalization for recreational use. The Partnership interviewed 1,603 adults, 1,200 of whom were parents of children ages 10 to 19.
Interestingly, support for each of the three legalization scenarios -- medical legalization, decriminalization and legalization for recreational use –- increased by anywhere from 3 to 11 percentage points when respondents were provided with more details explaining the meaning of each one.
While the survey may be seen as a sign that the Partnership is becoming a more progressive organization, some marijuana supporters view the move as a begrudging acceptance of an inevitable situation.
"This is a classic repositioning move from advocates who know they've badly lost an argument with the American people," Tom Angell, founder and chairman of the marijuana reform organization Marijuana Majority, said in an email. "It's great to see the Partnership conceding that marijuana legalization is no longer a matter of if and that the key question now is how marijuana will be regulated in the post-prohibition era."
Despite the growing acceptance of marijuana use in the nation, there was one area that did not see support from survey respondents: teen use. For example, in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, 85 percent of parents surveyed agreed that marijuana can have negative consequences on teen development.
Angell argued that if more people supported legalization, marijuana would be regulated in a safe and efficient way.
"A clear and growing majority of Americans support marijuana reform," he said. "I welcome those who unsuccessfully tried to stand in the way of progress to now do the mature, responsible thing by coming to the table to help craft regulations that will keep young people safer than prohibition ever could."
The survey was conducted via an online field study in March 2013. The margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is ± 4.9.