Results from a Gallup Poll released Nov. 15 reaffirm that more than two-thirds of Americans favor full legalization of cannabis.
For the third straight year, a record-high 68% of U.S. adults support ending the federal prohibition of the plant, Gallup pollsters concluded from a survey conducted Oct. 3-20. The survey included a random sample of 1,009 adults aged 18 and older living in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
When Gallup pollsters first asked Americans in 1969 “Do you think the use of marijuana should be legal, or not?” support was at 12%. It wasn’t until 2013 that a majority of Americans (58%) supported reform—the year after voters in Colorado and Washington passed adult-use cannabis ballot measures.
More recently, support for legalizing cannabis had majorities in 33 of 35 subgroups—with the exception of conservatives (49%) and those who attend church weekly (46%)—according to combined Gallup data from 2018-2022.
“An overwhelming majority of Americans have consistently opposed our failed prohibition of marijuana for years now, and it defies common sense that our elected officials at the federal level have yet to take any meaningful action,” NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said in a public statement. “Voters of every age and in virtually every region of the country agree that marijuana should be legal. It is well past time that Congress finally takes action to reform our nation’s laws to reflect the people’s will and relegate our disastrous prohibition policies to the trash bin of history.”
The Gallup Poll comes at a time when 21 states have legalized adult-use cannabis following Maryland and Missouri voters passing ballot measures earlier this month.
Consistent with other national polls, Gallup pollsters reported that liberal, nonreligious and younger Americans are the most supportive of cannabis reform.
More specifically, those with no religious preference (89% support for legalization) or who seldom/never attend religious services (78%) are among the five subgroups whose support for legalization exceeds the national average by 10 or more percentage points. Self-identified liberals (84%), Democrats (81%) and young adults aged 18 to 29 years old (79%) are also among the five subgroups.
“A statistical analysis that takes into account the influence of multiple respondent characteristics simultaneously confirms that ideology, religiosity, age and party identification are the most important predictors of marijuana attitudes,” Gallup Senior Editor Jeffrey M. Jones, Ph.D., wrote. “The model indicates that ideology is slightly more influential than the other variables.”
Specifically, liberals of all age groups support cannabis legalization in excess of 80%.
Gallup pollsters also reported that conservatives aged 65 and older are among the least likely to favor cannabis reform with 32% supporting legalization. However, younger conservatives are more open to reform, including 65% of those aged 18 to 29 and 59% of those aged 30 to 49.
While overall support among U.S. adults has leveled off at 68% for three straight years, younger generations of all political affiliations are more inclined than their older counterparts to think cannabis should be legal.
“As such,” Jones wrote, “in future decades support for legalizing marijuana can be expected to continue to grow as newer, likely more pro-marijuana, generations replace older generations in the U.S. population.”