A new survey from Gallup shows that a majority of Americans now believe what cannabis advocates have said for years: cannabis is better than alcohol when it comes to how it impacts both people and society.
One of the most interesting aspects of the survey is that the views on marijuana depend almost entirely on whether people have ever tried it. A large majority of those who have tried marijuana (70 percent) said cannabis has a positive impact on those who use it, while 66 percent said cannabis has a positive impact on society.
Those who have never tried marijuana had strongly opposing views. Among non-users, 72 percent said cannabis has a negative effect on people and 62 percent said it has a negative effect on society.
Fortunately for cannabis advocates, the overall numbers tilt in the favor of cannabis, with 53 percent saying it has a positive impact on users. Survey participants were evenly divided on whether that positive impact extends to society at large.
Attitudes on Cannabis and Alcohol Have Changed
Overall, 68 percent of Americans think cannabis should be legal, according to a previous Gallup poll. Even a majority of Republicans in Texas support legalization.
And while divisions remain about the overall impact of cannabis on society, there’s little doubt Americans think cannabis is better than alcohol. The same survey found that 71 percent of people think alcohol has a negative impact on drinkers, while 75 percent said it has a negative impact on society.
Only 27 percent of people said alcohol is good for drinkers, while 23 percent said alcohol offers a positive impact on society. However, about 67 percent of Americans said they drink liquor, wine or beer.
About Half of Americans Have Tried Cannabis
In addition to making it clear that they believe cannabis is better than alcohol, the survey participants also showed that experimentation with cannabis remains at about the same level as recent years.
The new survey found that 48 percent of respondents said they have tried marijuana, a massive increase from the 4 percent who said they had tried it when Gallup first asked the question in 1969. The number has steadily climbed since then, reaching 24 percent in 1977, 33 percent in 1985 and rising over 40 percent in 2015.
The survey reported that 16 percent of Americans say they currently smoke cannabis, a number that would translate into tens of millions of people. Also, 14 percent said they eat cannabis edibles.
Gallup reported that the age group with the highest levels of use are adults 18 to 34 (30 percent smoke cannabis, while 22 percent consume edibles). That number drops to 16 percent for the 35 to 54 age group and 7 percent for the 55 and older age group.