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The Number of Americans Who Support Marijuana Legalization Will Surprise You

New findings from the Pew Research Center.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Almost every American supports some marijuana legalization, which is nothing short of amazing in these divided times. The only difference is in what exactly they support. Also, the level of support differs depending on the age of the American you ask.

That said, a new report from the Pew Research Center finds Americans largely in agreement about the legalization of marijuana. That’s worthy of note at a time when so many Americans agree over nothing.

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The latest numbers come from an April 2021 study.

In a survey conducted in April 2021, Pew researchers found that 91 percent of adults in the United States say that marijuana should be legal. Of those, 60 percent say they support both legal recreational and medical marijuana. The other 31 percent support legal medical cannabis only.

Notably, only a small number - 8 percent - opposed legal cannabis in any form.

The support numbers are even higher than those seen the last few years in annual Gallup polls, where support for legal marijuana reached 70 percent last year.

Pew also noted that the support for marijuana legalization had increased dramatically over the years. In 2019, the support for marijuana had doubled since 2000. Support for legalization dropped as low as 16 percent in 1989. 

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The survey results also made some differences clear.

While the overall numbers are overwhelmingly in favor of legalized recreational and medical marijuana, the Pew Research Center also pointed out some essential differences. 

For example, older people are far less likely to support legalization. Here is the percentage of people in different age groups who support both recreational and medical marijuana legalization, going from the age group with the least support to the highest.

  • 75 and older: 32 percent
  • 65-74: 53 percent 
  • 50-64: 59 percent
  • 30-49: 65 percent
  • 18-29: 70 percent

Pew reports that among those who favor legalization, the most often cited reasons are the potential medical benefits of cannabis and the fact legalization would free up law enforcement to focus on other types of crime.

While almost every American supports marijuana legalization, relatively few have ever actually tried it. The Pew Research Center cites numbers from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, showing only 46% of Americans have ever tried marijuana. By comparison, 80 percent report having tried alcohol, and 61 percent have tried tobacco products.

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