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Majority of Americans Now Support Legal Marijuana

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- If you're not among the Americans who favor the legalization of marijuana, you might want to get with the program.

A Gallup poll released Tuesday shows that 58 percent believe there should be no criminal penalties whatsoever for recreational use of pot.

That marks the first time in the 44-year history of Gallup asking the question that a majority of Americans say that possession of marijuana ought to be legalized.  Back in 1969, only 12 percent of respondents held that view.

This dramatic shift in attitudes over a drug still regarded by many medical experts and lawmakers as dangerous has been fueled by the public's support for legalization of its recreational use in Washington state and Colorado as well as states that allow doctors to prescribe pot.

Meanwhile, the Gallup poll also found that nearly four in 10 Americans admit to at least trying marijuana.

Young people are leading the charge to legalize marijuana with 67 percent between the ages of 18 and 29 supporting that view.  A majority of those in all other age groups back legalization except those people over 65.

In terms of political affiliations, 65 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of independents and 35 percent of Republicans now support marijuana legalization.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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