Cannabis use for recreational purposes is legal in 15 states of America, including the District of Columbia, though marijuana possession is a federal crime in the United States. Many more states (36) permit its use for medical purposes.
The shift in the perception and attitude towards marijuana has been visible as far back as the 1960s. At the turn of the millennium, information touting the non-addictive nature and medical benefits of the drug flooded the media, significantly impacting how the drug is perceived today.
At TechnoMetrica, we have been watching closely as peoples’ perception of the plant-based drug underwent a sea change over the years. Juxtaposing the data from our previous IBD/TIPP Polls to the current one has revealed some unexpected shifts.
Data from our most recent survey, conducted last month, shows that more than half favor legalization.
- 56% of Americans favor legalization in 2021
- 66% of the 18-24 age group want it legalized
- 16% of Americans are unsure or undecided on the topic
- 76% of marijuana users support legalization
- 43% of non-users support legalization
While those statistics are impressive, a closer look at our 2019 survey data that asked the same questions reveals a surprising trend.
- 63% of Americans were in favor of legalization in 2019
- 78% of the 18-24 age groups wanted it legalized
- 5% were unsure or undecided on the topic
Overall, that shows a decrease of about seven percentage points in the support for legalization. The drop in support is likely due to the increased use among youngsters, concerns of driver safety, and the awareness that very few scientific studies exist to test these popular beliefs.
Interestingly, consumption has gone up, though fewer are in support of legalization.
Our comparison of the past six months use data from 2021, and 2019 shows that
- 39% have consumed marijuana in 2021 compared to 23% in 2019
- 15% used it for medical purposes as opposed to 7%
- 12% used it for recreational purposes against 5%
- 13% use it for both purposes vs. 10%
Mass media continues to push marijuana as a harmless drug. Most ignore the fact the cannabis in the market today is more potent than what was available in the mid-1900s. Thanks to growing techniques, THC, or the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is said to be around twenty percent now, vs. one to five percent in the 1970s.
Predictably, the use of the drug is more prevalent in states that have already legalized it. 46% of our survey respondents living in states where recreational use is legal reported consuming the drug in the past six months vs. 36% from other states.
Benefits Of Legalization
A majority of Americans see many benefits in legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana. Besides removing the stigma around its use, legalizing would bring it under the regulatory authorities’ gambit. If this comes to pass, they believe, it could cripple drug cartels and dealers, indirectly saving Americans millions in tax dollars.
- 54% of Americans are confident that legalization will benefit society and their community; 31 % are very confident of the benefits of legalization
- So were 45% of the 25-44 age group
- But, 53% of 65+ were not confident it would benefit society
- 84% of marijuana users are confident it will benefit society, vs. 34% of non-users
According to Forbes, marijuana offenses are the reason for the incarceration of 40,000 Americans.
Out of the 40,000 detained, the large majority of those who committed marijuana-related crimes, i.e., possession, selling, or suspected of possession or selling, are people of color.
Supporters of legalization say legalization would cut down the 80 billion dollars the American Taxpayer spends yearly in maintaining privately owned prisons, but most importantly, it will help in closing the social equity gap for people of color.
Majority in the U.S. are hoping that marijuana's days on the list of narcotic drugs are numbered. TechnoMetrica will continue to track how this unfolds.