A new Gallup poll published on November 8 showed that opinions on legalization are at an all-time high in the U.S. An estimated 68% of Americans, or seven out of every 10 individuals, said “yes” to the poll questions, “Do you think the use of marijuana should be legal, or not?” Only 29% believe that cannabis should not be legal, and 1% said they were unsure.
Gallup began asking Americans about cannabis legalization back in 1969, when only 12% of Americans supported the idea. Pro-cannabis opinions reached a milestone with 58% in favor of legalization back in 2013, which was shortly after Colorado and Washington State legalized cannabis. In 2014, the favor percentage decreased slightly to 51%, and then steadily increased back to 59% in 2015, followed by 60% in 2016, 64% in 2017, 66% in 2018, 64% in 2019, 68% in 2020, 2021, and 2022, and finally jumping to 70% in 2023.
Gallup surveyed 1,009 participants between Oct. 2-23, 2023 and noted that in regard to ideologies, a majority of people support cannabis legalization, including 91% self-identified liberals, 73% moderates, and 52% conservatives. As far as political parties go, 87% of Democrats, 70% of independents, and 55% of Republicans support legalization.
Increased support is still seen in younger ages as well, with 79% of 18- to 34-year-olds in support, with 71% of 31- to 35-year-olds, and 64% with people over 55.
Among men and women genders, 72% of men and 68% of women support legalization. The race/ethnicity categories were also only split into two representations: 1. People of color, and 2. Non-Hispanic white adults. The former showed 72% support for legalization, while the latter reflected 69%.
Among participants, those who have attended “some college” represented the highest percentage of support for legalization at 73%, followed by an equal number of people who either had no college education or a postgraduate degree at 70%, and “college graduates only” at 66%.
“There are no significant differences in support by gender, race or education,” the poll stated. “While most of the regional differences seen this year are also not statistically significant, the lower support for legalization in the East than in the West and Midwest is consistent with the recent trend.”
Gallup authors stated that cannabis is more popular and mainstream than ever. “The nation has reached a broad consensus on legalizing marijuana, with a full seven in 10 now supportive,” the poll stated in its conclusion. “Not only do most U.S. adults favor it, but so do majorities of all major political and ideological subgroups.”
Authors added that even though opposition remains, it does appear to be powerful enough to sway the public’s opinion on cannabis. “Although some health organizations and political commentators have raised concerns about the medical risks of marijuana, this hasn’t blunted the public’s desire for legalization thus far,” Gallup wrote. “For now, the high level of support among younger adults suggests national backing will only expand in the years ahead, likely resulting in more states, and perhaps the federal government, moving to legalize it.”
Additionally, participants were asked if they “smoke” cannabis, to which only 17% replied yes. This particular question has only been asked since 2013, and answers began at just 7%, followed by 11% in 2015, 13% in 2016, 12% in 2017, 12% in 2019 and 2021, and 16% in 2022.
“While essentially unchanged from the 49% and 48% readings in 2021 and 2022, respectively, the new figure is statistically higher than the 45% in 2017 and 2019 who said they had tried marijuana,” Gallup authors wrote. “In answer to a separate question intended to measure current behavior, about one in six Americans (17%) say they ‘smoke marijuana.’ This is also a new high in Gallup’s trend since 2003, albeit similar to the 16% recorded a year ago.”
One of the more significant differences in opinion with that poll lies in the political parties, where 57% of Democrats and 52% of independents said they have smoked cannabis, but only 39% Republicans said they have previously smoked. The first time Gallup asked this question was in 2013, to which only 7% of Americans said that they have smoked cannabis.
Other cannabis-focused surveys also reflect the growth in positive cannabis opinions. In late October, the results from a survey conducted by cannabis wellness company EO Care showed that 18% of participants have used cannabis for health reasons within the past year, 19% consume cannabis recreationally, and 14% use it for both medical and recreational purposes.
Another study published in the medical journal Psychedelic Medicine showed a significant increase in acceptance for psychedelics. “Our data reveal a striking positive shift in attitudes toward the therapeutic potential of hallucinogens among American psychiatrists since 2016, with a majority of responding psychiatrists planning to incorporate hallucinogen-assisted therapy into their practice if regulatory approval is granted,” researchers wrote.