A recent poll from Gallup shows that a record number of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. For the first time ever, a record-high 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be legal, an increase over last year's 46%. Conversely, 46% of Americans still think marijuana use should be illegal.

Gallup notes that when it first inquired about legalizing marijuana way back in 1969, only 12% of Americans were in favor, while 84% were against it. Over the years, those numbers shifted to the point of nearly breaking even.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws lists marijuana as the third-most-popular recreational drug in America, trailing only alcohol and tobacco. Both of these are legal, yet restricted. Avid smoker Curren$y retweeted a White House petition posted by High Times Magazine’s Senior Cultivation Editor Danny Danko that called for marijuana to be legalized and regulated in a fashion similar to alcohol.

Some states have decriminalized the use of marijuana, and even though the feds are trying to shut it down, other states have made it legal for medicinal use. A 2010 Gallup survey showed that 70% favored prescribing marijuana to reduce pain and suffering, and note that Americans have traditionally leaned towards medical use rather than casual legalization.

The study also shows that support is related to age, with the 18-29 crowd offering 62% of support while only 31% of people over 65 approve. Liberals are two times more likely than conservatives to favor legalizing marijuana, and Democrats and independents are more likely to favor it than Republicans. Shocking, right?

With support growing annually to the point that half of Americans support legalizing marijuana today, is it possible that lawmakers may fold and just legalize it? We’ll see, but even if they don’t, people will continue to smoke weed.

[via Gallup]