In 1969, the Gallup Organization began asking people about marijuana. At that time, only 12% of respondents favored marijuana legalization and only 4% admitted to trying marijuana at some point on their lives.
As Bob Dylan says, “the times, they are a changin’.” Now more than half of adults in the U.S. say they favor the legalization of cannabis and 45% admit to trying marijuana. And that 45% is likely to be a more accurate number since people in many states no longer have to worry about somehow incriminating themselves by telling the truth.
When you break down the numbers you see, as Gallup puts it, “that [trying] marijuana was more popular among Generation X and baby boomers, who probably tried it when they were younger, than it is among millennials,” even though regular marijuana use is highest among those aged 18 to 29. Marijuana also continues to be more popular among men, both in terms of those who have tried it and regular users.
Only 23% of those age 65 years and older say they have tried marijuana, which shows just how popular marijuana became in the late 1960s and the 1970s when compared to the 40s and 50s.
According to the same Gallup poll, 12% of Americans say they are currently marijuana users. When extrapolated out over the whole of the adult population, that’s well over 20 million people. That’s also up from only 7% just 4 years ago. Again, we have to assume that some of that bump comes from people who used marijuana regularly in 2013 and 2017, but who are now more willing to admit that to some stranger on the phone.
That number will likely peak in the next several years, if it hasn’t already (13% claimed to be regular marijuana users last year). Marijuana is not for everyone, just like beer and wine and Pauly Shore. But unlike beer and wine and Pauly Shore, marijuana is still illegal for a majority of the people who use it.
It may seem like I’m “beating a dead horse” here, but the time for marijuana prohibition to end has long passed. We must never get tired of saying that and of spreading information helpful to that end. Why are tens of millions of adults still considered criminals even though they aren’t infringing on the rights of anyone else?
Thankfully, as more people try cannabis and see just how safe and effective it is, the more likely they are to support and vote for legalization.