Cannabis Business Times
17 Aug 2021
The percentage of U.S. adults who have tried cannabis is the highest it has ever been.
As normalization continues to spread, 49% of Americans 18 years and older said they have tried cannabis—a 4% increase from 2019 and 2017—according to results from Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll conducted July 6-21.
Meanwhile, the Gallup Poll found 12% of U.S. adults answered yes when asked: “Do you, yourself, smoke marijuana?” That rate has remained unchanged—ranging between 11% and 13%—since 2015. Other popular forms to use cannabis, such as edibles, was not part of the poll.
Trends also touched on cannabis use for different generations, genders, religiosities, political affiliations and levels of education.
“More than 50 years ago, just 4% said they had tried the drug, but that percentage surpassed 20% in 1977, 30% in 1985 and 40% in 2015,” Gallup News reported in a summary of the poll. “The increase in the proportion of U.S. adults who have tried marijuana mainly reflects millennials replacing older traditionalists in the U.S. adult population.”
Only 19% of U.S. adults born before 1945, whom Gallup refers to as “traditionalists,” said they have tried cannabis. Generational experimentation among other birth cohorts is near identical, with 51% of millennials, 49% of Generation Xers and 50% of baby boomers saying they’ve used cannabis. The generational figure for baby boomers has gone unchanged from the 1980s, according to Gallup.
Gallup does not yet have sufficient data to provide reliable estimates for Generation Z, the oldest of whom are 24 years old now.
Combined data from 2015-2021 reveals smoking cannabis is most common among young adults, as millennials (20%) are twice as likely to say they consume cannabis in that form as Gen Xers (11%) and baby boomers (9%), while few traditionalists (1%) said they currently smoke the plant’s flower.
“These age differences, which have been consistent in Gallup’s polling, indicate that, at least historically, people tend to try marijuana at a younger age but as they get older, most no longer continue smoking it,” Gallup News reported.
Beyond age difference, Gallup also found the following trends among U.S. adults:
Men (16%) are more likely than women (9%) to smoke cannabis.Religious service attendance has an inverse relationship with cannabis use: 3% of Americans who attend weekly services and 6% who attend monthly services said they smoke cannabis, while 19% who seldom or never attend said they do. 21% of political liberals currently use cannabis, compared with 6% of conservatives. The rate of cannabis use is 5% among those with postgraduate education, compared with 14% of those with four-year college degrees or less.
“The percentage of Americans who have tried marijuana has steadily climbed in recent decades,” Gallup News reported in its summary. “Soon it should reach 50%, but it may not get much higher than that given the rates of experimentation have been steady around 50% in Gen Xers and among baby boomers. Half of millennials have also tried marijuana, and with many in that group approaching middle age, that proportion seems unlikely to increase in future years.”