In a groundbreaking national revelation, a recent Gallup poll unveiled a significant surge in marijuana use and acceptance among Americans, marking a turning point in the nation's perception of the substance. The survey was conducted as part of Gallup's annual Consumption Habits study and took place between July 3rd and the 27th of this year. It shows the ever-evolving landscape of marijuana use and attitudes towards it in the United States.

smoking a joint at party
Credit: rez-art

The study's most striking revelation is the exponential growth in the number of Americans who have tried marijuana at least once in their lives. The data reveals that an astounding 50% of respondents admitted to having tried cannabis, marking a new high point in a trend that's been steadily climbing over the past twenty-five years. The 2023 stat of 50% shows a significant statistical increase from the 45% recorded in 2017 and 2019.

cropped view of two young adults smoking a joint
Credit: diego_cervo

Further insights show themselves when the survey looks at current marijuana behavior. Approximately 17%, or 1 in 6 Americans reveal that they currently smoke marijuana, marking another historic high according to Gallup. This figure remains akin to the 16% recorded in the previous year, indicating a sustained and normalized pattern of consumption.

Trimmed marijuana flower (Mango Kush) in glass jar on wood table with vape pen.
Credit: HighGradeRoots

The report also reveals a substantial transformation in the perception and use of marijuana since 2013. A mere 7% of respondents admitted to marijuana use that year, highlighting an over 2 times increase in current figures. From 1969 to 1977, the percentage skyrocketed by 20 points, leaping from 4% to 24%. The upward trajectory continued, reaching 33% by 1985 before plateauing at under 40% until 2015. The trend then experienced a resurgence, settling at 49% in 2021.

Cannabis and ready to smoke preparation in cigaret
Credit: Manjurul

The report also examines the influence of demographics and political affiliations on marijuana use. Aggregated data from 2022 and 2023 demonstrates that nearly half of US adults, across various gender, age, and education groups, have experimented with marijuana. However, the patterns diverge along party lines, with 57% of Democrats and 52% of independents admitting to trying it, compared to just 39% of Republicans.

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When looking at local cannabis interests, Illinois recorded over $136 million in recreational cannabis sales in June, the highest month of 2023 and the third highest ever. While sales among in-state residents keep ticking up, sales from out-of-state residents are nearly $6 million lower than in June 2022. Out-of-state sales most likely dropped due to Missouri's legalized recreational cannabis. By the way, Missouri charges the lowest excise tax in the nation. In 2019 Illinois legalized recreational cannabis, including its commercial sale, and became the first state to do so through an act of state legislature.

Illinois Is 11th State to Legalize Marijuana
Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images
A customer enters Dispensary33 marijuana dispensary on January 22, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois, since it legalized the drug for recreational use on January 1. The state was the 11th in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

These numbers are consistent in current marijuana usage among different age groups. Young adults aged 18 to 34 remain the most prolific users at 29%, a rate more than three times higher than the 9% reported by adults aged 55 and older. Meanwhile, the rate of use among adults aged 35 to 54 mirrors the national average of 17%. Gender disparities are minimal, with similar amounts of men and women reporting marijuana use.

Credit: Ljupco
Credit: Ljupco

The report does look at public concerns about the impact of marijuana use. Interestingly, a majority of respondents express relatively low levels of concern about the effects of marijuana on regular adult users. In fact, 32% state they are "not too concerned" and 23% claim to be "not at all concerned." In contrast, apprehensions spike when looking at the effects of marijuana on young adults or teens who are regular users; 40% being "very concerned" and 35% being "somewhat concerned." This likely echoes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's warnings about the potential negative impact of marijuana on brain development and mental health among youths.

Marijuana and a gavel together for many legal concepts on the drug.
Credit: matt_benoit

As marijuana continues to gain legal status in an increasing number of states, its availability has paralleled a surge in experimentation and use throughout America. The nation currently finds itself evenly divided, with half of the population having tried marijuana and the other half abstaining. Although experimentation rates remain consistent among most categories, the frequency of current use leans more heavily toward young adults. That's the same young adults that will soon be running the world and setting policy for coming generations. This latest Gallup Poll further shows the evolving perception of marijuana in the United States; reflecting changing attitudes and the possibility of a shifting national and legal landscape.

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