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9 out of 10 Americans Support Cannabis Legalization

High Times Ahead: 9 out of 10 Americans Support Cannabis Legalization

Over half of Americans now live in a state where marijuana is legalized recreationally and nearly three quarters live in a state where it is legalized for medicinal or recreational purposes. There are almost 15,000 dispensaries across the US selling a huge variety of products for all wants and needs.
Hayley Smith
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Overwhelming support for cannabis legalization

A recent survey by Pew shows that nearly 90% of Americans support marijuana legalization, demonstrating a dramatic shift in the attitudes towards weed in the last few decades.

Over half of Americans now live in a state where marijuana is legalized recreationally and nearly three quarters live in a state where it is legalized for medicinal or recreational purposes. There are almost 15,000 dispensaries across the US selling a huge variety of products for all wants and needs. 

Given the prevalence of pot, its legality and the ever growing expanse of research evidencing its therapeutic benefits, it’s not surprising that Americans attitudes have changed so much over the years. Without the taboo and misinformation from mainstream media, stemming from the likes of Nancy Reagan and the ‘Just Say No’ era, a wider range of people are seeing cannabis in a new light.

Just say yes!

Opinion on legalization for recreational and medical use

88% of adults from the US voted that marijuana should be legal for either medical or recreational use. Almost six-in-ten (57%) of those surveyed believe pot should be legalized for both medical and recreational purposes and around a third (32%) think that it should only be legal for medicinal use. 

The research, conducted by Pew Research Centre in January 2024, captured information on attitudes towards marijuana from 5,140 US citizens over the age of 21.

The impact of legalization on society

The survey also looked into opinions on the impact of legalizing marijuana. Just over half of Americans (52%) said that legalizing recreational use is good for local economies (17% said it was bad and 29% said it has no impact). More than four-in-ten said that it makes the criminal justice system more fair than it did less fair (18%), whilst 38% said it had no impact.

Opinions are more varied when it comes to recreational use, community safety, and use of other drugs

  • 29% of people think that marijuana legalization (for recreational purposes) increases the chance of using other drugs, while 27% of people said they think it decreases the chances (42% said it had no impact)
  • With regards to community safety, only 21% of Americans said that legalization for recreational use makes communities safer, whereas 34% thinks it makes them less safe (44% say it has no impact) 

Demographic and partisan differences

Although cannabis reform has been gaining more bipartisan support in recent years, the figures show that some differences in attitudes and opinion still remain.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have more positive views towards legalization

  • 64% feel that legalization is good for local economies whereas only 41% of Republicans and Republican-leaners agree
  • 58% of Democrats and Democratic-leaners think that legalization for recreational purposes makes the criminal justice system fairer but only 27% of Republicans and Republican-leaners agree with that statement

Age is the demographic with the most noticeable differences in opinion

  • The divide between age groups was the most notable and unchanging from previous studies – younger people are far more likely to support legalization than older adults, particularly those over the age of 75, of whom only 31% believe marijuana should be legal recreationally
  • The younger the adult, the more likely that they hold positive views around legalization for recreational purposes and the impact this has on society
  • Of those under the age of 30, 71% say that it is good for local economies and 59% feel it makes the criminal justice system fairer

A bright future for Mary Jane

This recent survey demonstrates increased support for legalization and a greater understanding of its benefits to society. However, differences remain within certain demographics and political tendencies. The divide in attitudes between young and old remains, but with this comes a view to a continual upward trend for marijuana in future studies and policy making.

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