A majority of Californians now support legalizing marijuana, according to a new Field Poll.

A 54 percent majority - an all-time high in Field Poll history - supports legalizing marijuana. The poll results were released Wednesday.

The newfound support for legal cannabis comes mere months after voters in Washington and Colorado voted in November to defy the federal government's ban on marijuana and legalize the drug in their own states.

Californians most recently faced the prospect of legal marijuana in November 2010, but Golden State voters then decided to reject Proposition 19, whose supported pitched the idea that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol.

The new Field Poll results show the public's attitudes toward marijuana have changed drastically over the course of a generation. In 1969, only 13 percent of Californians wanted marijuana to be legal.

The Field Poll results open the question whether Californians are now destined to vote for full-blown legalization despite having voted against such measures in the past.

"I don't believe our state legislators have the chutzpah to pass a legalization bill. That means it's going to come down to voter initiative," said Lanny Swerdlow, founder of Inland Empire Patients Wellness Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Riverside.

Swerdlow said his conversations with other legalization advocates have convinced him California voters may be ready for legal marijuana in 2016.


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But Paul Chabot, founder of Rancho Cucamonga-based Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition, said he is confident marijuana will remain illegal in California one decade from now.

"It's interesting that we're seeing the polling, but the results don't reflect the polling at the ballot box," he said.

Chabot also said he is disappointed that Sacramento officials are not using the proverbial bully pulpit to advocate against marijuana use.

The new Field Poll results also showed Californians support medicinal marijuana by even greater margins.

The data reveal 72 percent of Californians support the state's medical marijuana law and 67 percent of state residents oppose federal prosecutions of medical marijuana providers.

In one such case, Aaron Sandusky, president of Upland-based dispensary G3 Holistics, was sentenced in January to 10 years in prison for violating federal drug laws.

G3 Holistics also operated dispensaries in Colton and Moreno Valley.


Reach Andrew via email, call him at 909-386-3872, or find him on Twitter @InlandBizz.