What a difference a few years makes. With recreational cannabis now legal where about 155 million Americans live, the shift to acceptance of cannabis in the mainstream culture continues to grow. A recent survey from Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll shows just how much things have changed.
The survey found that even though cannabis remained illegal across the country less than a decade ago, Americans now want less federal marijuana regulation and more focus on other issues such as electric cars and coal. That’s a far cry from the past, but also mirrors the findings of polls conducted in 2022, including one where people called alcohol more of a problem for society than cannabis.
Americans Say Cannabis Needs Less, Not More, Regulation
The survey, conducted in January 2023, asked participants about a host of political and current event issues. One question offered eight different areas and asked participants to decide if each area needed more regulation, less regulation, or about the same level as we have now.
Here is how the rankings came out, along with the percentage of people saying the industry needs more federal regulation.
- Cryptocurrency (57 percent)
- Consumer privacy and security on internet (55 percent)
- Social media (49 percent)
- Nuclear energy (44 percent)
- Electric vehicles (38 percent)
- Coal (36 percent)
- Marijuana (33 percent)
- Gas stoves (24 percent)
What’s more, marijuana ranked first for the area that needed less federal regulation, with 45 percent of respondents saying they’d like to see less federal marijuana regulation. That’s even more than the 39 percent who said that gas stoves require less regulation.
Another 22 percent said that federal regulation of marijuana should remain at the current level.
Current Federal Marijuana Regulations May Change
The federal government currently lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug on the same level as cocaine and heroin. But recent actions have shown that the federal approach to cannabis regulation is starting to change.
In the fall 2022, President Joe Biden ordered the Justice Department to conduct a study on whether cannabis should remain at that status. He also issued a pardon for those convicted of low-level federal cannabis crimes.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration recently passed on creating regulations for the use of CBD as a food additive. FDA officials instead said they would work with Congress on establishing those rules.
As for federal legalization, the odds of that happening anytime soon became much longer when voters gave control of the U.S. House back to Republicans. Most GOP members oppose legalization at the federal level.