A national poll released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that 50 percent of young Christians support legalizing marijuana and that an overwhelming majority of Americans don't think it's a sin to get high.
The overall results of the poll are consistent with other national polls, including one released earlier this month by Pew that found 52 percent support for marijuana legalization. PRRI's poll found slightly lower national support for legalization, with 44 percent supporting legalization and 49 percent opposing it.
The PRRI poll sought to determine the influence of religion on the national marijuana legalization debate.
Although 40 percent of respondents said using the drug is morally wrong, just 23 percent said doing so is sinful. Seventy percent that said it is not sinful to smoke pot.
Even fewer respondents, 20 percent, said they believe the Bible prohibits using marijuana. Among white evangelical Protestants, the figure is only slightly higher at 29 percent.
Young self-identified Christians are almost as likely to support marijuana legalization as the general population, the poll finds. Fifty percent of Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 said they support legalization, compared to 54 percent of that age demographic overall.
The percentage of young adults supporting marijuana has risen dramatically over just a few years, Pew found earlier this month. Sixty-five percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 32 told Pew they support marijuana legalization, up from 36 percent of that demographic five years before.
Interestingly, young Christians reported to PRRI a higher rate of having tried marijuana than the overall 18-to-29-year-old age group - 45 percent compared to 43 percent.
Only 22 percent of Christians over the age of 65 support legalizing the drug, and a mere 13 percent of that group had tried pot. Only 25 percent of these seniors believe it is morally acceptable to smoke pot, compared to 52 percent of Christian young adults.
The poll found that 65 percent of respondents who had tried marijuana support legalizing it, while 65 percent of respondents who had never smoked cannabis opposed legalization.
Catholics were the group least likely to have tried marijuana - at 33 percent - the poll found. Forty percent of white evangelical Protestants 44 percent of white mainline Protestants 52 percent of non-white Christians and 54 percent of Americans not affiliated with a religion reported using the drug at least once.
By race, whites and African-Americans were the most likely to support marijuana legalization - at 47 and 48 percent, respectively. Only 34 percent of Hispanic respondents said pot should be legal.
The poll surveyed 1,000 Americans between April 17 and April 21. Its calculated margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.