I first started consuming marijuana in 1993. I started at a younger age than I would recommend, but I turned out just fine, so it isn’t that big of a deal. I have not quit consuming cannabis since I first started. Sure, I had to take breaks sometimes, usually because I couldn’t locate any marijuana to consume, but for the most part I have been a solid consumer for roughly the last quarter century.
Marijuana has become legal in the state I was born and raised in (Oregon), along with seven other states and Washington D.C.. There is still a stigma attached to marijuana consumption, but the stigma isn’t as strong as it has been in past decades in America. A lot of people are either trying marijuana for the first time, or coming back after a long layoff. I am often asked the question, ‘how many Americans consume marijuana?’ Gallup has an annual poll that gets to the bottom of that very question, in addition to asking about how many Americans have tried marijuana at least once in their life as opposed to being a current consumer. Below are excerpts about the results of this year’s poll:
As more U.S. states legalize marijuana use, 45% of Americans say they have tried marijuana at least once, a new high in Gallup’s trend since 1969.
A separate question finds 12% of Americans saying they currently smoke marijuana, far less than those who say they have tried the drug. The percentage saying they smoke marijuana has nearly doubled since Gallup first asked this question in 2013, although there has been no meaningful increase over the past three years.
Last year when the poll was conducted, Gallup found that 43% of Americans had tried marijuana at least once, with 13% of poll participants stating that they were current users. I find it very interesting that in 1969 only 4% of Americans had tried marijuana, and support for legalization was only at 12%. Zoom forward the last Gallup poll (October 2016) which found that 60% of Americans supported legalization.
The rise in American support for legalization has paralleled the rise in the number of Americans who have tried marijuana. I think it’s safe to say that when people try marijuana themselves, they see that any claims about danger and harm are way, way overblown. Americans need to be responsible in their use, and education about marijuana is needed at all times. But reefer madness should not be tolerated, and neither should fear mongering. As the number of Americans that have consumed marijuana at least once continues to approach 50%, and support for legalization continues to grow, it is clear that the winds of change are picking up and hopefully federal prohibition will be removed sooner rather than later as a result.