Nothing ends a bad week like 420, and this year it was certainly a welcome close to a horrible week. Americans became more accepting of marijuana legalization after the dark ages of Just Say No, sometime when it became clear that Bill inhaled and had sex with that woman. It’s just ridiculous. Every President for the last two decades is a former marijuana smoker. The huge leap in public opinion between 2008 and 2010 was a bit of an eyebrow raiser, though. And, indeed, the 2012 GSS found opinion stable, rather than trending towards legalization. The 2010 sampling frame may have hit some hot spots of legalization fervor, but it seems clear that nearly half of Americans support legalization.
Of course, support for legalization has varied by age/cohort, and real cohort differences are quite apparent. The Just Say no generation lags behind the youngest cohorts, while the majority of baby boomers (45-60 in 2012) support legalization. Opposition remains high among the olds, but they will die soon.