Poll Indicates Majority Of Americans Favor Legalizing Pot

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UPDATED: Friday January 24, 2014 5:38 PM

A new CBS poll shows, for the first time in the history of CBS polling, a majority of Americans narrowly favor legalizing marijuana by a 51 percent to 44 percent margin.

What's most striking in the poll is the generational divide on the issue.  Those 18-29 favor pot legalization by a 61 percent to 33 percent margin, while the numbers are practically reversed for those over 65.


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President Obama weighed into the debate this week telling the New Yorker Magazine, "As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."

The White House later clarified that Obama remains opposed to a nationwide decriminalization of marijuana.

Still, his remarks set off Ohio anti-drug activists who believe people should not be receiving mixed messages from elected officials.

Danielle Smoot's 16-year-old son Cole died three years ago after a drug overdose.

"I was absolutely devastated and disappointed with the president," said Smoot.  "I think marijuana is not like alcohol.  For the president to say that it's not that big of a deal, I was so disappointed."

Sam Buehler's drug odyssey includes three trips to the ER, two arrests and multiple trips in and out of rehab.

Now two years clean, the 22 year old says pot is common gateway into harder drugs.

"I think most often people start with pot and slowly get through other drugs," said Buehler.  "It's not like one night you're at a party with a couple cups of beer and then you try heroin.  I think there is a progression to do it.  Typically kids start smoking pot, drinking and then they'll try a prescription pain killer.  They think that's safer and slowly addiction sets in and you get to more serious things like heroin."

Petitions are being circulated in Ohio to put the legalization of medicinal marijuana on the statewide ballot this fall.

The CBS poll finds Americans support the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in overwhelming numbers - 86 percent.

Cindy Wynia of Columbus is an advocate for medicinal marijuana.

She says she has suffered for years with spinal issues.  After physical therapy, prescription drugs - even Cortisone shots - she says medical marijuana has made the most difference.

"I can't explain the feeling of relief I get from not feeling any pain," said Wynia.  "When I use medical marijuana I can use it at home whenever I wish.  It's somewhat costly but not prohibitively costly like a Cortisone shot.  And I can use it when I need it."

Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational marijuana use. Another 18, along with the District of Columbia, allow some legal pot use, primarily for medicinal purposes.

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