Date of this Version
Published in The Sociological Quarterly, 58:3 (2017), 405-428,
We cast fresh light on how and why Americans’ views on marijuana legalization shifted between 1973 and 2014. Results from age-period-cohort models show a strong negative effect of age and relatively high levels of support for legalization among baby boom cohorts. Despite the baby boom effect, the large increase in support for marijuana legalization is predominantly a broad, period-based change in the population. Additional analyses demonstrate that differences in support for legalization by education, region, and religion decline, that differences by political party increase, and that differences between whites and African Americans reverse direction. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings and by identifying promising directions for future research on this topic.