New poll: 50 percent of young US Christians support legal pot

(Photo: Reuters / Andres Stapff)People speak about marijuana seeds during a seminar for home growers organised by "AECU" (Uruguayan association for cannabis studies) in Montevideo, Dec. 15, 2012. Uruguayan Congress were debating a bill to legalize production and distribution of marijuana. Picture taken December 15, 2012.

A new poll shows that half of young adults (18-29) in the United States who self-identify themselves as Christian support the legalization of marijuana.

Released in a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI), the information was part of a broader poll examining the views of Christians in relation to pot.

While the poll says only 45 percent of overall Americans support pot's legalization, the breakdown amongst Christians is even more diverse.

As a whole, less than one-third (29 percent) of evangelical Protestants and only 40 percent of Catholics, support such a measure.

Yet, nearly half (49 percent) of mainline Protestants favor legalization.

One of the more intriguing finding is that the number of young Christians who are okay with legalization is growing.

Fifty-two percent of young Christians think that smoking weed is morally acceptable.

This is in direct contrast with only 25 percent of Christian seniors.

Conversely, 54 percent of Christian seniors believe that new state laws legalizing marijuana usage are signs of moral decline and American decadence.

"While most religious Americans overall continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana, the generational sea change on this issue is also shifting the ground inside churches," PPRI CEO Robert P. Jones said.

"Christian young adults are twice as likely as Christian senior adults to say both that marijuana should be legal and that using marijuana is morally acceptable."

In direct contrast to these Christian numbers, about two-thirds (66 percent) of religiously unaffiliated Americans want marijuana sold in a store near you.

The research shows that only 23 percent of Americans believe using marijuana is a sin while 70 percent do not see it a religious or spiritual matter. Further only one out of every five Americans (20 percent) believe that the Bible specifically prohibits reefer madness.

According to PPRI research director, Daniel Cox, marijuana use is increasingly becoming a morally accepted social issue on the cultural stage.

"Marijuana, like the issue of same-sex marriage, appears headed for broader cultural acceptance," said Cox.

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