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How Many Americans Smoke Weed? The Results from a New Gallup Survey Will Shock You.

Despite being banned in many states, the plant has plenty of fans.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Of all the statistics about cannabis use, few show how much the country’s culture has changed more than the recent numbers from a survey by Gallup.

A recent Gallup poll showed half of all Americans have tried weed, with 12 percent saying they currently smoke weed regularly. About 15 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes, and 72 percent want to quit.

That means the number of people who regularly smoke cannabis is almost equal to the number who regularly smoke cigarettes.

The survey is especially surprising for Baby Boomers, and even Generation Xers, old enough to remember when American society deemed smoking cigarettes as acceptable (yes, even on TV and in movies) and cannabis as not.

That’s something that seemed highly unlikely even in the late 20th century.

Cannabis users continue to grow

The new survey found that 49 percent of American adults say they have tried weed. For context, that number stood at 20 percent in 1977, 30 percent in 1985, and 40 percent in 2015.

On the other hand, the number of Americans who regularly smoke cannabis has remained about the same, between 11 percent and 13 percent, in recent years. However, that number stood at only 7 percent in 2013.

These numbers fall in line with recent Gallup polls. The annual poll on support for cannabis legalization found that 68 percent favor it. A separate survey found that 70 percent of Americans find marijuana use “morally acceptable.”

Related: Women and Cannabis: What Nobody Is Talking About

Younger generations more receptive to weed

Among older Americans (those born before 1945), only 19 percent say they ever tried cannabis in their seven-plus decades of life (Gallup calls this group “Traditionalists”). For the other three generations, the following percentage say they have tried marijuana.

  • Millennials (51%)
  • Generation Xers (49%)
  • Baby boomers (50%)

Gallup reported that the percentage of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who report having tried cannabis has remained the same since the 1980s and 1990s. They attribute the overall gain in the number of Americans trying weed to Millennials who have replaced older members of the Traditionalists generation who have died. It’s worth noting that the survey does not include Generation Z. The oldest members of that generation just turned 24 in 2021.

Among those who said they “smoke marijuana,” implying they use it regularly, the percentage numbers broke down as follows.

  • Millennials (20 percent)
  • Generation Xers (11 percent)
  • Baby Boomers (9 percent)
  • Traditionalists (1 percent)

Related: The Fastest-Growing Cannabis Consumers May Surprise You


Differences between people of different genders, religious practices

More men than women smoke marijuana - 16 percent vs. 9 percent. Also, only 3 percent of Americans who attend a religious service weekly - and only 6 percent of those who attend monthly - said they smoke marijuana. About 19 percent of those who seldom or never attend religious events said they do. 

Not surprisingly, 22 percent of political liberals said they smoke marijuana, while only 6 percent of conservatives said the same.

Those with a higher level of educational attainment smoke less, according to the survey. Among those with a postgraduate education, only 5 percent said they smoke marijuana. That number stood at 14 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree or less.

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