Scott Maggard and I recently published an article in the Journal of Drug Issues entitled "Reefer Madness to Marijuana Legalization: Media Exposure and American Attitudes Toward Marijuana (1975-2012)". The abstract and web link are below.
American attitudes toward marijuana have varied greatly from the time it was criminalized in the 1930s through the present day, and public opinion favoring the legalization of marijuana has steadily risen since 1990. It is generally well accepted that the media played a large role in shaping not only marijuana laws but also the general public’s attitudes toward marijuana. As such, this study utilized General Social Survey data to examine the relationship between media exposure and attitudes toward the legalization of marijuana from 1975 through 2012, 1975 through 1990, and 1991 through 2012. The findings indicate that while media exposure was not significantly related to attitudes about marijuana legalization from 1975 through 1990, both television and newspaper exposure had a significant positive relationship with favor toward the legalization of marijuana from 1991 through 2012.