Majority of police think marijuana laws should be relaxed, survey says

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More than two-thirds of United States' police officers think marijuana should be legal for either personal or medical use, a new survey finds.

Pew Research Center surveyed nearly 8,000 officers nationwide, finding that 32 percent think marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, 37 percent believe the substance should be legal for medical use only, while 30 percent think it should not be legal at all.

"Pew also found a generational divide among cops on the marijuana issue," the Washington Post notes. Officers under the age of 35 were more likely to support the legalization recreational marijuana (37 percent) than those between the ages of 50 and 60 (27 percent).

Related: Marijuana legalization laws by state

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Marijuana legalization laws by state
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Marijuana legalization laws by state

Alabama: Medical use only, otherwise possession is a felony

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald via Getty Images)

Alaska: Marijuana legalized for medical and recreational use 

(Photo: Zoonar/N.Okhitin via Getty Images)

Arizona: Marijuana legalized for medical use

(Photo: Mikel Ortega via Getty Images)

Arkansas: Medical use only

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California: Legal for medical and recreational use

(Photo: Dorling Kindersley via Getty Images)

Colorado: Legal for medical and recreational use  

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Connecticut: Decriminalized and legalized for medical use 

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Delaware: Decriminalized

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Florida: Medical use only

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Georgia: Medical use only

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Hawaii: Medical use only

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Idaho: Not legal

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Illinois: Decriminalized

(Photo: VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm)

Indiana: Not legal

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Iowa: Medical use only

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Kansas: Not legal

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Kentucky: Not legal

(Photo: Dorling Kindersley via Getty Images)

Louisiana: Medical use only

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Maine: Legal for medical and recreational use

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Maryland: Decriminalized

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Massachusetts: Legal

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Michigan: Medical use only

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Minnesota: Decriminalized

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Mississippi: Decriminalized on first offense

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Missouri: Not legal

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Montana: Medical use only

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald via Getty Images)

Nebraska: Decriminalized on first offense only

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Nevada: Legal

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New Hampshire: Medical use only

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New Jersey: Medical use only

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New Mexico: Medical use only

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New York: Decriminalized unless in public view

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North Carolina: Decriminalized

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North Dakota: Medical use only

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Ohio: Decriminalized

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Oklahoma: Medical use only

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Oregon: Legal for medical and recreational use

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Pennsylvania: Medical use only

(Photo: Henryk Sadura via Getty Images)

Rhode Island: Decriminalized

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South Carolina: Not legal

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South Dakota: Not legal

(Photo: Dave and Les Jacobs via Getty Images)

Tennessee: Medical use only

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Texas: Medical use only, decriminalized in Houston and Dallas

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Utah: Not legal 

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Vermont: Decriminalized

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Virginia: Not legal

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Washington: Legal for medical and recreational use

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West Virginia: Not legal 

(Photo: Getty Images)

Wisconsin: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

Wyoming: Not legal 

(Photo: Space Images via Getty Images)

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Traditionally law enforcement organizations have been considered among the biggest opponents to legalizing marijuana, according to The Post.

Marijuana legalization remains an important issue as the federal government transitions between administrations. The decision by President Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, to relax federal marijuana enforcement in 2009 help set off a chain of legalization and decriminalization moves by states in recent years.

But President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, is considered a staunch opponent of any legalization.

The New York Times wrote on Sunday that when President Obama likened marijuana to alcohol, Sessions was "heartbroken."

"This drug is dangerous," Sessions said in 2016. "Good people don't smoke marijuana."

Marijuana remains fully illegal on the federal level, and a new Justice Department could elect to ramp up prosecutions again.

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

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