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Top 36 Marijuana Legalization Statistics You Didn’t Know

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When Colorado state created a precedent and made smoking pot legal in 2012, its decision caused a significant backlash. Since then, the opposing officials have been advocating against it. They have been predominantly expressing concerns that, based on available marijuana legalization statistics, this decision would have a negative impact on America’s youth and overall crime rates in the state.

Therefore, possessing and selling marijuana has remained an offense on the federal level.

Since Washington and Colorado “legalized it” eight years ago, many other US states decided to make medical or recreational use of cannabis legal. In the last decade, the marijuana legalization movement battled to raise awareness about the positive aspects of smoking, selling, and manufacturing pot legally.

The Pros and the Cons of Legalization

Cannabis advocates point out many positive effects of making marijuana use and sales a non-illicit activity: 

  • It has many benefits in medical practice
  • It is less or equally dangerous and harmful than consuming alcohol or cigarettes. 
  • Manufacturing and selling pot will amass vast sums for the US budget in tax returns. 
  • Decriminalizing pot will facilitate the police’s workload and help with the US’ mass incarceration issues. 

Thanks to the diligent and dedicated work, there is now only one-third of US citizens who are against this pro-marijuana legislature. These are some of the opposing side’s critical arguments against marijuana legalization: 

  • Marijuana is a gateway drug that will lead users to experiment with heavier substances, such as heroin or cocaine.
  • If the US states allow marketing and sales of pot, there is a risk that the cannabis industry will take advantage of this generous opportunity. 
  • The crime rates in states that legalized weed will go up.

As with any other legislatures, the opposing sides are bound to be pitted at each other. But the fact is that weed legalization is finding more and more supporters in the US. As of today, two-thirds of America is in favor of pot legalization.

If you are interested in discovering how the US citizens’ attitude has changed in the last ten years, we broke down the stat numbers for you. 

Here are the most critical data, statistics, and marijuana legalization facts.

The Latest Statistics on Marijuana Use, Legalization, and Selling Trends (Editor’s Pick)

  • Two-thirds of Americans claim that pot should be legal. 
  • Only 32% of adults think that marijuana should not be legalized, which is 20% less than over a decade ago. 
  • In 2017, flower-type marijuana was the most popular way to consume pot among US grown-ups at 74%. 
  • The US has legalized medical cannabis in 33 states. 
  • You can smoke pot recreationally in 11 American states now.

Americans in Favor of Weed Legalization

1. 12% of interviewed Americans were in favor of legalizing weed in 1969. This number increased to 28% about ten years later, in 1977. The percentage of marijuana-pro Americans surpassed 30% in 2000, and the number has been growing ever since.  

(Source: Gallup) 

Many years ago, no one could have imagined that pot could be made legal, and that marijuana legalization issues would become a thing of the past. The number of weed legalization supporters has doubled over time. It seems that US people have been learning about beneficial marijuana traits by comparing it to other drugs that only have harmful effects.

2. Over recent years, 91% of US grown-ups have said that grass should not be illicit for recreational or medical purposes. Another 59% of Americans have approved of recreational use of pot, while 32% consider that pot should pass legislation for its numerous salutary benefits. 

(Source: PEW Research)
Over the course of the last ten years, American citizens came to see that cannabis can help in easing the symptoms of certain terminal illnesses. On another note, marijuana usage in the United States confirms that some simply enjoy smoking and consider it less harmful than cigarettes.

3. According to the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, 8% of people oppose the legalization of weed.

(Source: PEW Research)

Their main argument relies on numerous negative effects of marijuana legalization. Those against weed passing legislature believe that it is detrimental to the health and well-being of American youth. Also, they express concern that smoking pot will cause more people to try other forms of drugs, or cause addiction. 

4. In 2018/2019 surveys, 60-70% of grown-ups who were asked about opinions on legalizing weed were in favor of this legislation.

(Source: Gallup) 

People of all big subgroups support marijuana legalization, no matter their gender, educational, regional, or financial background. On another note, people’s opinions differ when it comes to race, ideology, religiosity, and age.

5. 81% of grown-up Americans under 30 years old favorized legalization of pot, including 80% of millennial subgroups born between 1980 and 2000. 

(Source: Gallup) 

In contrast to the older American population, young people are predominantly in favor of legalizing it. America’s youth sees no harm in weed being accessible for both recreational and medicinal purposes.  

6. Nearly half of seniors (49%) want the government to at least decriminalize weed. Also, those born before 1945 show a lower percentage of support – 40%.  

(Source: Gallup) 

Considering the conservative stigma attached to older citizens, these numbers are high. Marijuana usage statistics corroborate that they usually acknowledge that cannabis has an important role in helping them deal with cancer-related problems and Alzheimer-provoked difficulties. These are their usual reasons why marijuana should be legal.

7. Around 81% of boomers, 76% of Gen X, and 78% of millennial democrats support the legalization of weed. On the contrary, 53% of silent generation democrats think that not making marijuana illegal is a good idea. 

(Source: PEW Research)

Generally speaking, millennials, baby boomers, and Generation X consider that the use of pot should be legal in America. On the other hand, people born before baby boomers believe the opposite. More precisely, 64% of the silent generation is against pot use passing legislation,  US marijuana legalization statistics show. 

8. 76% of American democrats believe that pot should be legal, while 51% of Republicans agree with this legislation move. The independently oriented American population is 68% pro-weed.  

(Source: Gallup) 

Having specific political views can influence the way you observe marijuana laws. Many pieces of research have proven that democrats are more inclined to be weed advocates. On the other hand, Republicans are divided on weed policy. 

9. 82% of US liberals, 48% of conservatives, and 72% of moderates support the legalization of weed. 

(Source: Gallup) 

It is no wonder that so many liberals support weed legalization. It goes hand in hand with their other progressive policies. Similarly, the lack of approval coming from the conservatives is more than expected. They make one of the few subgroups that are not in favor of marijuana legalization.

10. 42% of the American religious population is in favor of making pot legal. 

(Source: Gallup) 

More than three-quarters of individuals who rarely go to church say they support weed passing legislation. Those who visit the church from time to time are 63% for marijuana legalization. Naturally, those who attend church services regularly are the least prone to advocate for weed legalization.

11. Only 46% of Hispanics are in favor of this legislation. 

(Source: PEW Research)

Marijuana legalization statistics show that a similar percentage of division exists in black and white supporters of marijuana. Around 59% of each race is in favor of pot legalization.

Marijuana Users Stats

12. National survey on drug use and health confirms that around 48% of the American adult population had used pot sometime in their lives. 

(Source: PEW Research) 

Experimenting with weed is an integral part of growing up in the US. Many interviewed people do not think much of it was harmful to their overall health. In addition, this percentage is still lower than those who admitted to consuming alcohol (86%) or cigarettes (66%) at some point in their lives. 

13. Male US citizens, the youth, and people with family earnings below $30,000 are most inclined to admit to smoking pot.

(Source: Gallup)

According to these findings, the population under the US poverty limit is more likely to confess to smoking pot. Statistically, more men than women will say that they enjoy marijuana, creating a 6% gender difference gap. More precisely, 13% of men say that they use cannabis, while only 7% of women will call themselves marijuana consumers. 

Also, 13% of low-income interviewees admit to currently using marijuana, while 18% of those aged 18-29 are happy to say that they enjoy weed. 

14. People aged 30-49 have most probably experimented with pot – 51%. Around 49% of those between 50 and 64 have tried pot sometime in their lives. 

(Source: Gallup)

As we can see from this research, the older the person gets, the less prone to smoking they become. So if we take a look at age patterns, we can conclude that weed was more popular with baby boomers and Gen X when they were younger than it is now with millennials. 

15. As of 2018, approximately 28 million people used marijuana in the past month.

(Source: Statista)

The marijuana statistics corroborate that a lot of people in the US smoked pot in the past month from 2009 to 2018.

16. In 2017, 55.6% of female bisexual high schoolers smoked pot. Homosexually oriented guys followed with 43.5%.  

(Source: American Marijuana)

Surveys that register risky forms of behavior among youth report that kids of alternative sexual orientations are more prone to smoke weed during their high school years. 

Opinions About Using and Effects of Marijuana Legalization Statistics

17. 79% of those opposing marijuana legalization name increased chances of car crashes under the influence of cannabis.

(Source: Gallup)

Those in favor of marijuana-positive laws reject this argument since the biggest share of traffic accidents still occurs as a result of drunk driving. So people smoking marijuana are not more dangerous than inebriated individuals while in traffic. 

18. Marijuana is used 7% less than cigarettes. 

(Source: Gallup)

Studies show that the population thinks that both substances are harmful in different ways. It should be noted that there are fewer and fewer Americans who smoke tobacco products. On the other hand, the use of cannabis is going up. 

19. 82% of the American population thinks that cigarettes are not healthy, 71% feels the same about chewing tobacco, 56% thinks that cigarettes are bad for you, while 27% believe that marijuana can damage your overall health. 

(Source: Gallup)

Stats reports are corroborating a shocking gap between opinions about the impact of using tobacco products and weed on one’s health. Some 55% fewer interviewees do not believe that smoking pot is as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

20. 69% of Americans believe that smoking weed will inspire people to use heavier drugs. 

(Source: Gallup)

More than half of Americans expressed concern that pot just paves one’s way to heavier drug abuse. Therefore, they think that marijuana is a powerful gateway drug.

21. 54% think that marijuana is harmful to those who use it.

(Source: Gallup)

The accumulated data confirms that more than 50% of US citizens believe that enjoying pot may leave serious or delayed consequences to one’s mental and physical health. They think that the negative effects of using marijuana, such as temporary states of paranoia, hallucinations, or addiction may be detrimental to their quality of life. 

22. 62% consider that marijuana would encourage more people to use it. 

(Source: Gallup)

Smoking pot in front of other people, especially children, might be dangerous, marijuana opposers argue. Stats prove that more than 60% of Americans think that this activity would motivate the observers to start smoking pot. 

Medical and Recreational Use of Marijuana Statistics

23. In 2019, 10% of those who used cannabis for medical purposes bought their product in adult-use market states, 12 % got it in medical markets, and 9% shopped in illicit markets.

(Source: Statista)

Last year data proves a small percent of people acquiring their marijuana from legal resources. One might ask where the rest of almost 90% of weed consumers get their products?

US Industry and Economic Benefits of Legalizing Weed

24. Cannabis-related medical purchases brought $112 million to the US national register in 2019.  

(Source: Norml)

It is an undeniable fact that the US cashed in on medical marijuana last year. The only products that bring so much money to the national register are potatoes, maple syrup, apples, herring, and blueberries combined.

25. Caregivers sold around 85 million in the worth of marijuana products to patients in need.

(Source: MarketWatch)

The officials in Maine have been following up on the tax revenues of caregivers. They drew the conclusion that licensed legal retail of marijuana for adults will increase in 2020. So the consequences of marijuana legalization have more than positive financial outcomes. 

26. In Colorado state, the cultivators impose a 15% excise tax on retailers and 15% more on the buyers. 

(Source: MarketWatch)

Following this practice resulted in Colorado amassing $1.2 billion from legal pot sales and $270 million in taxes. 

27. The legalization of medical marijuana in some states caused alcohol sales to plummet by 15%, a Georgia State University study found.

(Source: MarketWatch)

It is not surprising that the study has shown a critical decrease in alcohol sales in marijuana-legal countries. Many people who prefer smoking weed to drinking alcohol found marijuana legalization beneficial. Therefore, alcohol sales fell by 15%. In the states where recreational marijuana is legal, alcohol sales fell an additional 5%. 

28. California earned $345 million in 2018, while Washington pulled $376 million in marijuana taxes. 

(Source: MarketWatch)

More and more marijuana-related money will pour into the US national budget. New Frontier Data anticipates that the legalized pot market will amount to $25 billion by 2025. 

29. 45% of people working in the US cannabis industry have paid vacation time. Also, more than 87% of employees state that they have never been arrested nor charged for cannabis possession.

(Source: American Marijuana)

A little less than 50% of cannabis workers can go on vacation carefree because the employers will pay for it. Unfortunately, many employees think that this basic human labor right is unattainable or a privilege. 

30. Globally, Tilray is the richest marijuana startup in the world, with $47 million in profits. 

(Source: American Marijuana)

As you can see, weed companies operating in US countries that legalized marijuana can earn a lot of money. Maybe it is high time that you make a career change? 

31. In 2017, 75% of cannabis industry employees claimed that they joined it to create change.

(Source: American Marijuana)

This data proves marijuana advocates’ dedication and commitment to the cause. In addition, statistically speaking, those who work in marijuana industry get less pulled over or criminally pursued by the police. However, there is only 7% of marijuana industry workers who joined the weed industry to get the best of using and possessing marijuana benefits. 

32. 60% of marijuana workers consider that small salaries and poor mentorship programs are the biggest issues in this industry. Around 50% of all employees think that gender discrimination is an even bigger problem.

(Source: American Marijuana)

Even though many people enter the marijuana business to break stereotypes about using and smoking marijuana, more than half of them face disappointment when it comes to salaries. Women in the cannabis business face major discrimination and prejudice against being capable of contributing to it as men would. 

Marijuana Legalization Crime Rates and Arrest Trends

33. In 2018, there were 40% marijuana-related arrests out of 1, 65 million of drug-related arrests in the District of Columbia. 

(Source: PEW Research)

The research says that other drug arrests were cocaine or heroin-related, with 25%. These numbers account for arrests for selling, manufacturing, or possessing these substances. The FBI gets information from local and state enforcement units, but it is hard to follow the fluctuations in trends of weed arrests since it changes from year to year. 

34. In 2018, 92% of marijuana arrests were for possession, and 8% were for selling or producing. 

(Source: PEW Research)
As you can see, a lot of people get arrested for possession of pot. But it comes as a surprise that only 8% of pot dealers get caught by the police. One would expect that the sellers and manufacturers would draw the longer straw.  

35. In 2018, 53% of arrests in the Northeast were on marijuana charges, 49% in the South, and 50% in the Midwest. 

(Source: PEW Research)

Although the FBI does not account for marijuana arrests in each state, the patterns are different in each of them. For instance, in the West, there were fewer weed-related arrests (15%) during the same year. 

36. Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, the first four countries to legalize pot, had roughly 30,000 aggravated assaults and 450 murders in 2013, combined. 

(Source: NCBI)

The connection between marijuana use and these crimes is weak. For many years, marijuana violence statistics have been reporting that cannabis use can cause mental illnesses and violent patterns of behavior in some individuals. Nowadays, we can outsmart this drug, avoid dangerous outcomes, and enjoy its benefits. 


Is Marijuana Addictive? 

Although many people neglect the addictive qualities of marijuana, recreational marijuana statistics confirm that one in 11 people shows signs of addiction to pot. Furthermore, regular marijuana consumers experienced similar symptoms that proved that marijuana addiction is a diagnosable condition. 

That said, some users started experiencing symptoms of withdrawal after they stopped smoking weed. They complained about feeling irritable, having trouble sleeping, losing their appetite, and feeling restless. 

Cannabis consumers who can qualify as addicts usually compulsively smoke marijuana despite its detrimental effects. Those classified as weed addicts struggle not to use this drug even though it takes a toll on their private life. For instance, marijuana usage causes them to miss work, school, or have problems with the law. 

Note that in 2017, roughly 4 million individuals suffered from weed addiction. In 2015, over 200,000 sought help from addiction centers. 

Who Supports Marijuana Legalization? 

The legalization of marijuana statistics proves that the majority of the US population supports the legalization of weed.

However, one-third of Americans did not show support for this policy. Many US citizens think that smoking pot can leave negative consequences on one’s overall health, or that cannabis smoking will eventually lead to the use of more aggressive drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. 

On the other side, two-thirds of American people of different races, age groups, genders, political views, and religions supported the legalization of pot. From middle-aged and young people of all races to millennials, Gen X, and boomers, weed has been welcomed for its beneficial qualities. Thus, they jointly voiced some of the positive effects of legalizing weed: 

  • It is less harmful than alcohol.
  • It has numerous health benefits. 
  • Current weed laws cost taxpayers a lot of money. 
What are the differences between legalization, decriminalization, and medical marijuana? 

Although they often appear in marijuana laws’ discussion terms, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana are not used correctly. 

Legalizing marijuana implies that the country has removed laws banning the use, selling, and buying weed. The essential part of legalizing marijuana practices is the fact that the government can tax and regulate the sales and use of pot. In this way, hundreds of felons arrested for possession or usage of small portions of marijuana can be cleared. That said, the judicial system can work more effectively and save taxpayers’ money. 

Decriminalization of marijuana is something else. You should know that in countries that have decriminalized pot, recreational use, sales, and producing marijuana is still illicit. But the criminal punishment and ramifications of these marijuana-related offenses are mild. In other words, the state instructs authorities to turn a blind eye when it encounters pot consumers or when they find a small amount of weed in their possession. 

Medical use and benefits of marijuana are hallmark arguments for legalizing marijuana. 

Still classified by the FDA as a Schedule I drug, like ecstasy, heroin, or LSD, pot has many salutary effects. One marijuana plant consists of 100 chemical substances. It is used to relieve pain in cancer patients and it helps with treating people with Chrone’s disease, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, anorexia, etc. 

What are marijuana policies around the world?

Many countries see and support the benefits of legalizing weed. So if you have a case of “itchy feet” combined with the love of smoking weed, that’s great news for you. 

Nowadays, people can travel the world and consume marijuana in numerous countries. 

  1. Canada had legalized pot in 2018. Canadians can grow, sell, and consume weed freely. 
  2. Mexico allows up to five grams of weed for recreational use. 
  3. In most countries of South America, you can smoke marijuana. For instance, Argentina is the first country that provides free pot for medical purposes. Colombia has also decriminalized weed so that you can have 20 grams for personal use.
  4. As many people now, marijuana is legal in The Netherlands and allows people to smoke it freely in cafes and on the streets. But it is not lawful to grow it. 
  5. Spain is famous for its marijuana-smoking pubs.
  6. Surprisingly, Russia has decriminalized weed up to 6 grams for recreational use. 

Wrap Up

All things considered, there are many marijuana legalization pros and cons. But the overwhelming opinion of the US population is in favor of making weed accessible, legal, and less stigmatized. That said, the weed advocates work on forming adequate strategies to popularize and normalize pot consumption ideas in different countries that still haven’t legalized it. 

The latest marijuana legalization statistics show promising results. Therefore, it is possible that with a constant increase of support from marijuana consumers, all American states will either decriminalize or make marijuana use, sales, and marketing legal. 


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