Approval for cannabis legalization in the United States has reached a new peak, with seven out of ten Americans expressing support, marking the highest level to date, according to the latest Gallup poll.
This shift comes after a consistent 68% support rate over the past three years. As that number rose to 70% in the new survey, 29% of U.S. adults said they remain opposed to legalization of marijuana. Another 1% said they are undecided.
It’s a stunning turnaround since Gallup first asked the question in 1969. In that year, a mere 12% of Americans favored cannabis legalization. While support generally increased over the years, the trajectory shifted significantly in 2013 when support surpassed the 50% mark rising from 48% to 58%. This surge followed the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, marking a pivotal moment.
Support Grows Along With Increased Use by Americans
Since 2013, support has continued to grow for cannabis legalization. This upward trend aligns with the increased self-reported use of cannabis among Americans.
According to Gallup’s Consumption Habits survey in July, the percentage of individuals admitting to personally smoking marijuana has risen by 10 points since 2013, reaching 17%. Additionally, the percentage of those who have tried marijuana has increased by 12 points, reaching 50%.
Gallup also has reported that more Americans have used cannabis recently than smoked tobacco. Surveys have also shown that Americans now regard cannabis as less harmful than tobacco.
Support For Cannabis Legalization Comes From All Groups
For the second straight year, majority approval in the Gallup survey for cannabis legalization came from all major demographic subgroups, spanning age, political party and ideology. Notably, self-identified conservatives, who reached 51% support in 2022, were the last major subgroup to achieve majority backing.
In the new survey, support for cannabis legalization is most robust among liberals (91%) and Democrats (87%), while conservatives (52%) and Republicans (55%) exhibit the lowest levels of support. In terms of age, support peaks at 79% among 18- to 34-year-olds. However, even in the oldest age group, 65 and over, nearly two-thirds (64%) express favorable views.
Interestingly, there are no significant variations in support based on gender, race or education. While most regional differences observed this year lack statistical significance, the comparatively lower support for legalization in the East (64%), compared to the West (72%)and Midwest (75%), aligns with recent trends.
The nation has reached a broad consensus on legalizing marijuana, with a full seven in 10 now supportive,” Gallup wrote about the survey. “Not only do most U.S. adults favor it, but so do majorities of all major political and ideological subgroups.”
The researchers added that while some health organizations and political commentators voice concern about medical risks of marijuana, this has not led to lower levels of support. They added, “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.”