Marijuana use is now as common as cigarette smoking.
Marijuana use is now nearly as popular as smoking cigarettes in the United States. That’s according to a new Gallup poll, which revealed that 49% of Americans now admit to consuming marijuana. This is the highest percentage the organisation has ever recorded in more than 50 years of polling the public on cannabis use.
According to Gallup, only 4% of people had tried the substance more than 50 years ago. Between 1970 and 1985, the ratio grew to 30%, then remained in the 30s until 2015. After remaining stable for 30 years, the percentage of adults who have used marijuana has risen to about 50% in the previous six years.
It’s unclear if the number of marijuana users increased or if the shifting tides merely made existing users feel more comfortable confessing their usage. It’s also unknown how many marijuana users nowadays still lie about their use due to the stigma attached to the drug.
While lifetime cannabis usage appears to be increasing, reported regular marijuana use has been steady, ranging between 11 and 13 percent every year since Gallup began included it in its annual poll. In 2021, 12% of Americans, including 20% of Millennials, acknowledged to consuming marijuana on a regular basis.
Generational Differences in Cannabis
The poll discovered a generational divide among older Americans, dubbed “traditionalists” by Gallup, with 195 of them having used marijuana at least once. Approximately half of the rest of the population used marijuana. Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) appear to have been unaffected by the legalisation of marijuana in many states, as their rates of use have remained consistent since the 1980s and 1990s, whereas Gen Xers (those born between 1965 and 1990) have increased their marijuana consumption in recent years. With a rate of consumption of 51 percent, millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are the most cannabis-friendly generation.
Gallup’s research found that generations are resistant to modify their attitudes regarding cannabis. The number of traditionalists who have used marijuana has doubled since 1985, according to Gallup, but this “probably reflects the death of many of the oldest members of that group, who were significantly less likely to have tried marijuana than younger traditionalists.” Despite the fact that marijuana is now considerably more widely available and legal, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers saw little to no rise in marijuana use.
“With minimal change in generational rates of marijuana experimentation over time, the rise in the share of U.S. adults who have tried marijuana is primarily due to Millennials replacing older traditionalists in the adult population,” the report concludes.
Other distinctions, such as a gender divide, have been noticed. Men are roughly twice as likely to smoke marijuana on a regular basis as women. Only 3% of Americans who attend religious services on a weekly basis use marijuana on a regular basis, compared to 19% of non-churchgoers. As is to be expected, Democrats and non-affiliated progressives consume marijuana at up to four times the rate of Republicans.
“In recent decades, the number of Americans who have used marijuana has consistently risen,” Gallup finds. “It’s unlikely to go much higher than 50%, given that experimentation rates among Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have been consistent around 50%. Half of Millennials have smoked marijuana, and as many of them approach middle age, that number is unlikely to rise in the coming years.” The willingness of newer generations to try marijuana will influence how popular it becomes in the next years, as all present generations appear to experiment with marijuana up to 50% of the time before plateauing as the generation grows older and less receptive.
However, despite never having tried marijuana, a huge percentage of Americans want it to be legalised, according to this study. According to the most recent Gallup poll, at least 68 percent of the population supports full legalisation of marijuana. To summarise, it is not required to use marijuana or even have prior experience with it to support cannabis reform.