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US split on legal pot - poll

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A bag of marijuana being prepared for sale, sits next to a money jar at BotanaCare in Northglenn, Colorado in this file photo. Picture: Rick Wilking/Files

Atlantic City, New Jersey -

Americans are split over whether marijuana should be legalised for recreational use, according to a poll released on Thursday. But the same poll finds them solidly opposed to online gambling.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll finds that 50 percent of Americans favour legalising marijuana use, while 27 percent support legalising Internet gambling in the 47 states that don't allow it.

Although only New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware currently allow Internet gambling, at least 10 other states are or recently considered legalising it.

“Right now online gambling looks to be a long shot in the court of public opinion,” said Krista Jenkins, the poll's director and a professor of political science at the university.

The poll examined public attitudes about two activities that Jenkins said are taking place whether legal or not.

It found that 65 percent of respondents are not closely following news about Internet gambling.

But when asked if they favour or oppose allowing casinos to run online gambling for people in their states, 63 percent are opposed, with 27 percent approving. The numbers are largely unchanged from when similar questions were asked in 2012 and 2010.

In contrast, far more Americans are paying attention to news on marijuana legalisation, with 86 percent saying say they've heard of or read about legalisation efforts.

By a ratio of 2-to-1, Democrats (63 percent) favour legalisation more than Republicans (32 percent), with independents (58 percent) more closely aligned with Democrats.

Young people also are far more supportive of legalisation, with 65 percent of the millennial generation and over half of Gen Xers (56 percent) in favour, compared with fewer than half (48 percent) of baby boomers and around a third (36 percent) of the World War II generation.

“Democrats see getting high as a lifestyle choice, whereas Republicans are more likely to understand it through the prism of morality and social deviance,” Jenkins said. “However, the age differences we're seeing suggest that legal (pot) smoking in the future is more a question of 'when' rather than 'if.'“

Washington and Colorado have legalised recreational marijuana

use, and several other states are considering it. Numerous others have approved medical marijuana use.

The nationwide poll of 1,151 adults ages 18 and older who reside in the United States was conducted by telephone with both landline and cellphones from April 21-27. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. - Sapa-AP


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