Pew Research survey indicates immense support for recreational or medical cannabis legalization among U.S. residents


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

As more U.S. states introduce legal weed laws, an increasing number of Americans are choosing to support recreational and/or medical cannabis legalization. 

In fact, a new survey carried out by Pew Research Center from April 5-11, 2021 indicates that 91 percent of U.S. adults want to see cannabis reform laws enacted, whereas 31 percent want to see medical cannabis laws introduced.

Between the years 2000 and 2019, the amount of Americans who felt that cannabis should be legalized in the U.S. more than doubled. Conversely, less than one-in-ten (eight percent) American adults think that cannabis should not be legalized for adult-use purposes.

These findings emerge amid a wave of legislative considerations by congressional Democrats that could essentially decriminalize cannabis on a nationwide scale. Let’s find out what else the Pew Research team discovered.

5,109 U.S. adults were surveyed on cannabis reform in the U.S.

At the beginning of April, a total of 5,109 adults partook in Pew’s study on cannabis reform in the U.S. Every single adult is a certified member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP). This online survey panel features data from a national, random sampling of residential addresses.

Data gleaned for this survey on cannabis reform in the U.S. features categorized responses that represent the American adult population. Examples of those categories are as follows:

  • Education
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Partisan affiliation

A key takeaway from this survey on cannabis reform in the U.S. is that older adults are much less likely to support cannabis legalization for recreational use than younger adults. 

This view rings true among adults aged 75 and above, with a mere 32 percent saying that cannabis should be legalized for both medical and recreational use.

Meanwhile, 53 percent of adults aged 65 to 74 say that the green plant should be legalized for recreational and medical purposes, while 70 percent of adults below the age of 30 support the idea of cannabis reform in the U.S.

Racial, ethnic and political differences in views of legalizing cannabis

Approximately two-thirds of white (63 percent) and black (65 percent) adults think that medical and recreational cannabis ought to be legalized. Comparatively, 43 percent of Asian adults and 52 percent of Hispanic adults share the same view on cannabis reform in the U.S.

In terms of differing views from political parties, 63 percent of Republicans aged 18 to 23 favor recreational and medical cannabis legalization, whereas 53 percent of those aged 30 to 49 and 48 percent of those aged 50 to 64 support cannabis reform. Conversely, just a quarter of Republicans 65 and older (27 percent) back the idea of legal weed.

On the other side of the playing field, approximately three-quarters of Democrats aged 18 to 29 (78 percent) favor medical and recreational cannabis legalization, whereas 64 percent of Democrats aged 65 and older share this view. Around 73 percent of Democrats in the 30-49 age group support cannabis reform in the U.S., as well as 70 percent of 50 to 64 year-old Democrats. 

Republicans are less likely to support recreational cannabis legalization than Democrats, with 47 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents favoring medical and recreational cannabis. Moreover, 40 percent say that the plant should only be legalized for medical purposes. 

Correspondingly, 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners want legal recreational and medical cannabis, while an additional 23 percent only support the idea of legal medical cannabis.

Approximately four-in-ten conservative Republicans (39 percent) feel that cannabis should be legalized for medical and recreational purposes, whereas a 60 percent majority of moderate and liberal Republicans share the same view.

Finally, almost two-thirds of conservative and moderate Democrats (63 percent) and 82 percent of liberal Democrats believe that medical and recreational cannabis should be legalized.