Cannabis Is Way More Popular Than You’d Think

Cannabis has been taking the world by storm–so much so that, chances are, your parents smoke it. A poll published by Yahoo News and Marist College in 2017 sheds light on what the actual numbers behind cannabis use are: Around 55 million people consume cannabis in the United States alone. Most of these users are parents (which includes older millennials), and millennials are the group who consume it most.

Research on the relationship between cannabis consumption and parenting has been at the center of attention (we wrote about it), but until more data become available, the Yahoo News and Marist College poll remains one of the most comprehensive guides to understand the world of cannabis.

Despite being a couple years old, the Marist poll is interesting because, unlike other surveys, it was done via phone, and it ensured anonymity. People simply feel more comfortable talking to a voice at the other end of the line, rather than talking to a federal representative, considering that cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. This survey method yielded considerably higher results: The latest polls had put cannabis use at around 33 million people, while this one reported a staggering 55 million.

One of the most interesting findings, despite it being pretty obvious, is that people who have tried cannabis support its legalization more than those who haven’t. Fully 70 percent of Americans who have tried marijuana at least once support legalizing recreational weed. Only 26 percent of those who haven’t tried it say the same. This number is important, however, because the more cannabis becomes legal at different levels in different states, more people will try it, and therefore more people will support it. 

Around 56 percent of Americans also believe that smoking weed is “socially acceptable,” and that they would not care if they were to find out that their kids’ teachers or their barista (or their Uber driver–you name it) smoked cannabis in their free time. This is related to the fact that 70 percent of Americans believe that regular alcohol, tobacco or painkiller consumption is much riskier than regular cannabis use.

The biggest consumers of cannabis remain millennials: of the 55 million users nationally, 52 percent are just now reaching adulthood in the 21st century. What’s interesting about this finding is that only 16 percent of millennials are comfortable with admitting that they use cannabis “to have fun.”  Thirty-seven percent reported that they use it to relax; 19 percent said they do it to relieve pain, 10 percent said it helps them be social.

Lastly, 54 percent of adults who use marijuana are parents. A majority of those parents—16 million of them—have children under the age of 18. This is a big topic for those who oppose cannabis use. They are afraid that parents are using it in front of their children. However, the Marist survey reported that 94 percent of marijuana-using parents of underage kids say they’ve never used it in front of their kids or shared it with them.

The poll also showed that users are very open with their significant others about their habit (95 percent of users have told them) and close friends (95 percent again). Seventy-two percent have told their parents about their marijuana use, and 60 percent have told their kids.

Some families even toke together—21 percent of users have either smoked marijuana in front of their parents or shared it with them. Among older users with adult children, 35 percent have smoked with, or in front of, their kids.

Overall, the poll shows that cannabis has truly gone mainstream: all age groups are consuming it, support has increased, and there are now as many cannabis consumers as tobacco users.


Emerald contributor since July 2019


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