New Survey Reveals 90% of Americans Approve of Cannabis Legalization

New Survey Reveals 90% of Americans Approve of Cannabis Legalization

With support for legalizing marijuana at an all-time high, it may be time for even the most ardent opponents to rethink their position.



America is more divided than at any other time in the young country's history. With half the nation supporting a former President facing multiple criminal charges related to issues ranging from sex offenses to trying to incite insurrection and the other half begrudgingly forced to choose an octogenarian lesser of two evils, the United States has not been this broken since the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, which precipitated the horror of the Civil War.


One of the fundamental principles laid forth by the Founding Fathers as a cornerstone of American democracy is majority rule. Whether citizens are choosing the next President or their local sheriff, the one unyielding tenet of the American political and governing system is that whoever or whatever (issue) receives the most votes wins.


The last few elections have been decided by razor-thin margins, with only a handful of counties deciding the ultimate winner of arguably the most critical job in the world. With those types of stakes involved, it is no wonder that polling, which is increasingly vital and technically sophisticated, has ascended to such an important and closely followed activity in the modern world.


However, despite the divisive polarization dominating American political and cultural life, a handful of issues defy the critics, cynics, and conflict stirrers. One of those mercurial topics that seems to unite all Americans is cannabis legalization.


From right-wing, gun-loving, MAGA hat-wearing diehard conservatives to progressive-minded, long-haired hippies, a vast majority of Americans support some type of cannabis legalization. And the polling numbers prove it.


According to a recent article published in High Times, a new research survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that close to nine in ten Americans (88%) believe cannabis should be legal for medical or recreational use. The poll also shows that a significant majority (57%) of those interviewed said that marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational purposes, with only 11% of respondents opposed to any legal cannabis.


The proliferation of legalized cannabis reform in the United States in the decade since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize adult-use marijuana is nothing short of remarkable.


There are currently 38 states with legalized medical or recreational cannabis programs, with an astonishing 74% of Americans living in a legal cannabis state and over 79% residing in a county with at least one cannabis dispensary.


The growth has been so rapid that nearly 15,000 dispensaries are operating nationwide, vastly outnumbering the roughly 13,500 McDonald's fast-food franchises in America.


Along with seeking input regarding the legalization of cannabis, the survey also examined American attitudes regarding the impact of legalization, with 52% indicating that legal marijuana is good for local economies (17% saying it was bad and 29% saying no impact). 


Those interviewed were also asked to weigh in on cannabis reform's impact on the criminal justice system. 42% said that legalization resulted in more fairness, with 18% indicating that legalizing recreational cannabis makes the system less fair and 38% saying it has zero impact.


The findings also point to a continuing upward trajectory in support for legalization across all political affiliations and demographics. However, as with almost all research surveys examining American attitudes toward legal marijuana, the polarizing and popular plant medicine receives a much higher percentage of support from the young and those who lean more toward the left on the political spectrum.


One of the most encouraging signs for researchers is that this most recent poll is highly consistent with previous reports issued by Pew. The company's 2022 survey also found that 88% of Americans supported cannabis legalization (medical or recreational), along with 10% who did not support the reform movement.


The primary reason for the increasing support can be directly linked to a lack of "buyer's remorse" concerning cannabis legalization efforts among voters, according to Paul Armentano, deputy director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advocacy group.


"As more states have adopted legalization, public support for this policy has risen dramatically. That's because these policies are largely working as intended and because voters prefer legalization and regulation over the failed policy of cannabis prohibition. Elected officials who refuse to take action to end cannabis criminalization do so at their own political peril," Armentano said.


"As more states have adopted legalization, public support for this policy has risen dramatically. That's because these policies are largely working as intended and because voters prefer legalization and regulation over the failed policy of cannabis prohibition. Elected officials who refuse to take action to end cannabis criminalization do so at their own political peril."

- Paul Armentano, Deputy Director for NORML


With Minnesota and Ohio set to go online with their recreational sales markets sometime in 2025 and several other states currently considering voter-driven or legislative initiatives to legalize adult-use cannabis, the spread of and support for legal marijuana will continue to grow and strengthen. The only real domino left to topple is the federal ban on cannabis. When that final one does drop, the plant's real power will manifest.