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Three New Polls Confirm A Strong Majority Of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization



Three new polls released on the week of 4/20 show that a strong majority of Americans continue to support marijuana legalization.

The surveys were released by CBS News, YouGov and Civic Science. They touched on a number of cannabis-related issues, but one though line was that respondents favor legalization at the state and federal level.

The CBS News poll shows that 64 percent of Americans want marijuana to be legal in their state, and that includes majorities of Democrats (73 percent), independents (66 percent) and Republicans (53 percent).

Likewise, Civic Science also found that 64 percent of Americans support cannabis legalization in their state.

YouGov’s survey determined that 58 percent of respondents say that cannabis should be legal in their state, including 65 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of independents and 46 percent of Republicans.

It also asked respondents whether they felt that Congress should pass legislation to legalize cannabis at the federal level, and 55 percent said they strongly or somewhat support the reform.

There were similar partisan trends, with Democrats most supportive of federal legalization (67 percent), followed by independents (55 percent) and Republicans (42 percent).

The top-level findings are generally consistent with national polling over recent years, which has demonstrated that legalization enjoys majority support along increasingly bipartisan lines.

But the new surveys go beyond the question of legalization, inquiring about topics like social acceptability of marijuana use, personal cannabis habits and support for dispensaries being located nearby.

Here are the other key findings for each survey: 

CBS News

  • 53 percent of Americans view marijuana use as socially acceptable, compared to 47 percent who disagree.

  • 67 percent said that they would not think differently about a friend or family member who uses cannabis, while 26 percent said they’d think “worse” of them and seven percent said they’d think “better” of them.

  • 11 percent of respondents said that most of their friends and family use cannabis, compared to 32 percent who said some do, 28 percent who said “very few use it” and 29 percent who said nobody in their circle uses it.
  • Among regular marijuana consumers, 44 percent said that most people know they partake, while 34 percent said some people know and 22 percent said very few or nobody knows about their use.

  • 37 percent said that they’re opposed to having cannabis businesses in their neighborhood. Another 32 percent said it “wouldn’t matter” to them, and 31 percent said they’d favor it.

  • Among those who support having a local dispensary, 85 said that their opinion is based on their belief that they’re easier to regulate, 83 percent said they’re already widespread, 81 percent said they boost the economy, 77 percent said they generate tax revenue and 54 percent said they’d personally shop at them.

  • 28 percent there’s already a cannabis business in their neighborhood, 46 percent said there’s not and 25 percent said they don’t know.

The survey involved interviews with 1,582 Americans from April 14-18, with a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.

Civic Science

  • 62 percent of respondents said that they never or rarely use marijuana, compared to 17 percent who said they consume monthly, 15 percent who said daily and seven percent said a few times per year.
  • 36 percent of consumers said that they use “traditional smoking methods, while 27 percent use edibles, 25 percent use vaporizers and 12 percent said they use a different product like tinctures and balms.


  • 55 percent of Americans support expunging the records of people with prior non-violent cannabis convictions. That includes 68 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and 45 percent of Republicans.

  • 45 percent said that marijuana is very or somewhat safe, including 51 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of independents and 32 percent of Republicans.

  • 18 percent of respondents said that they regularly or occasionally use cannabis.

The survey involved interviews with 1,000 Americans from April 13-20, with a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points.

The polling came during a week of increased awareness about cannabis policy issues leading up to the unofficial marijuana holiday 4/20, with top congressional lawmakers pledging to keep up the fight to end prohibition.

For example, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wished marijuana advocates a “happy 4/20” on Thursday and committed to “work like hell” to advance reform, announcing plans to refile his comprehensive federal legalization bill while continuing work on a package of more modest cannabis legislation.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said on Thursday that lawmakers are working to “resurrect” a package of marijuana banking and expungements legislation from last session, acknowledging that failure to advance a financial fix for the industry “literally means that hundreds of businesses go out of business.”

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Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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