Half of Americans think marijuana is bad for society, poll finds

A new Gallup poll suggests Americans are equally divided in their views on marijuana, but support for legalization is still widespread.

According to Gallup, pollsters conducted phone interviews with 1,013 people 18 or older in all 50 states and Washington, DC. When asked what effect they thought marijuana had on society, 49% of respondents said it was positive, while 50% said cannabis has negatively impacted society.

But still, 68% of adults think marijuana should be legal, Gallup says.

Not surprisingly, the large majority of adults who have ever tried marijuana believe its effects on users and society as a whole are positive. The survey found 72% of people who have never tried marijuana think it’s bad for society.

Who uses marijuana in the US?


View of hemp flowers at Empire Standard, a hemp extract processing and distribution plant, on April 13, 2021 in Binghamton, New York. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Previous Gallup polls found that marijuana users — both smokers and those who eat edibles — tend to be young. Thirty percent of adults 18-34 report smoking marijuana; 22% report consuming edibles. That’s significantly more than the 16% of adults between 35 and 54 smoke and/or consume edibles. Only 7% of adults 55 and older report using marijuana.  

Nearly half of American adults, 48%, report ever trying marijuana. That’s up from 4% when Gallup first asked about it 1969.

But far fewer people smoke it, pollsters found. A record high 16% of people say they regularly smoke marijuana, about 4% more than last year. Gallup also asked Americans, for the first time, about marijuana edibles and found that 14% consume them.

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"The vast majority of people who consume marijuana edibles are also marijuana smokers, but not all marijuana smokers consume edibles — just over half, 57%, say they do," Gallup says. 

RELATED: Study: Four-year college students drink more alcohol; two-year students use pot more

Researchers also found that:

  • Men are more likely than women to say they have ever tried marijuana, but the two genders are similar in their self-reports of smoking marijuana and consuming marijuana edibles.
  • People with a college degree are about as likely as those without one to have ever tried it or to use it currently.
  • Democrats and independents report similar levels of marijuana use; Republicans are less likely to use it, and less likely to have every tried it.

Senate bill would decriminalize marijuana

In July, three prominent Senate Democrats introduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, despite slim chances that the bill will pass.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, would remove marijuana from the list of federal controlled substances, but it could still be outlawed at the state level. 

Recreational marijuana is legal in 19 states, Washington, D.C, and Guam, while 37 states allow some form of medical marijuana.