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55% support for legalizing marijuana
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Support for legalizing marijuana in California appears to be growing gradually stronger, amid talk of renewed efforts to bring a proposal to the state ballot to legalize its use, a statewide poll found Wednesday.

A Public Policy Institute of California survey of 1,706 residents found that 55 percent of likely voters in the nation’s most populous state believe marijuana use should be legal. Pollsters said support for legalizing marijuana among all adults is at its highest point since the survey began asking the question in May 2010.

According to the poll, younger residents, those ages 18 to 34, are more likely than older adults to say marijuana use should be legal. Adults without children are likely to favor legalization, while most parents with kids are opposed. Among racial groups, blacks most strongly favored legalization, at 69 percent, while Asians were hesitant, with more than half opposing legalization.

Colorado, Washington state, Washington, D.C. and Alaska have legalized the recreational use of pot, and an Oregon law legalizing it takes effect in July. California could be among a string of states that consider the move this year or next.

In 1996, California voters approved an initiative that legalized marijuana for medicinal use. Nearly two dozen other states allow marijuana for medicinal purposes, and 18 states have decriminalized possession of varying amounts.

The findings on marijuana use were part of the poll’s look into attitudes and opinions in California.

Likely voters were about equally divided on the question of whether California was headed in the right direction. Most residents bemoaned the condition of the state’s roads and bridges, but they also expressed concerns about runaway government spending.

Most adults are also vexed about the long-running drought and believe their neighbors aren’t doing enough to conserve water.

“The ongoing drought is raising concerns about the long-term water supply,” pollster Mark Baldassare said in a statement. “Most Californians think their neighbors could be doing more to save water today.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet project, California’s high-speed rail line, remains a tough sell. With early stages under development, likely voters are evenly divided on whether it’s a good idea or a costly boondoggle.

Not surprisingly, Democrats view President Barack Obama favorably, while Republicans cringe. Overall, about half of likely voters in the strongly Democratic state approve of the job the president is doing in Washington.

California also displays the deep partisan divide witnessed on Capitol Hill.

Overall, 56 percent of likely voters approve of the job the Democratic governor is doing in Sacramento, an endorsement driven by support among his fellow Democrats. Among Republicans, 56 percent give Brown a failing grade. Independents are split, 47 percent approving and 38 percent disappointed.

The telephone survey was conducted March 8-17. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.