What Is the Public Perception of Pot in the U.S and Internationally

image of marijuana leaf being held up by a hand with bright natural light behind it

Marijuana reform is a major conversation in the world today. Some drastic changes are occurring in the cannabis industry with Canada recently legalizing marijuana on a federal level, and three more U.S states adopting marijuana legalization to some degree. At the moment, the future of cannabis legalization is looking bright and seems to be maintaining its momentum both nationwide and internationally.

As we saw in the midterms this week, the public perception of pot is moving in a positive direction. Cannabis reform is on the move, and it's going to take one hell of a storm to slow to it down.

Public Perception of Pot in the United States

Cannabis is still a federally illegal drug, yet a majority of the states have approved a medical or recreational marijuana program. 34 states have a marijuana program in place, and 15 states already have some sort of CBD/low THC program, otherwise known as an industrial hemp program.

Solely Medical Marijuana States: image of a doctor in a lab coat holding up a bottle with marijuana buds in it, image is used to represent medical marijuana

  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Minnesota
  • Illinois
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Florida
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Hawaii
  • Rhode Island
  • New Jersey
  • Delaware
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • New Hampshire
  • Utah
  • Missouri

Every single one of these states has a regulated medical marijuana program in place. As shown by the list above, medical marijuana is widely accepted. Recreational marijuana is where many states do not see eye to eye. Only ten states have legalized recreational marijuana.

Recreational Marijuana States: image of a lighter, grinder, marijuana buds, and joints all sitting on a table, one joint is resting on a marijuana bud

  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Vermont
  • Maine
  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan

Public perception of pot is at an all-time high hitting 62 percent in favor of legalization in a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. While the current poll does not show a drastic change in public opinion from 2017 to 2018, it does reflect nearly double the number of people in favor of legalization since 2000. Nearly six out of ten Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana, and it’s not just the millennials swaying the data.

Break the Numbers Down in the United States:

  • 74% of Millennials are in favor of marijuana legalization.
  • 63% of Gen Xers are in favor of marijuana legalization.
  • 54% of Baby Boomers are in favor of marijuana legalization.
  • 69% of Democrats are in favor of marijuana legalization.
  • 45% of Republicans are in favor of marijuana legalization.
  • 68% of Independents are in favor of marijuana legalization.
  • 68% of men are in favor of marijuana legalization.
  • 56% of women are in favor of marijuana legalization.

Legalizing some form of marijuana is something a majority of people can see agree on, so why is it still illegal at the federal level? Well, some believe the United States is on the way to federal legalization quicker than we think. With a significant change in the international classification of marijuana on the horizon, it's possible a global reform may push the United States into federal legalization. With the public opinion of pot well in favor of legalization, it's likely we're on the brink of major federal reform.

Public Opinion of Pot in Canada image of canadian flag with a pot leaf replacing the normal leaf

Surprisingly enough, the general opinion of marijuana legalization in Canada is not nearly as positive as in the United States. With Canada’s marijuana market open for business, it's wild how many citizens are still against legalization. In a recent poll, nearly 52% of people are in favor of legalizing marijuana and 41% still disapprove of legalization. Only by a slight majority do Canada’s new policies support public opinion.

Break the Numbers Down in Canada

  • 74% of those in favor of legalization were 34 years old or younger.
  • 56% of those in favor of legalization were men.
  • 58% of those in favor of legalization have a post-graduate degree.
  • 65% of those in favor of legalization live in Atlantic Canada.
  • 63% of those in favor of legalization live in BC.

The public opinion of pot in Canada varies quite a bit and is not as postitive as one would think. A majority of people 65 or older are against marijuana legalization and don't see the benefits of new reform. Even 43% of women are against marijuana legalization in Canada. It's shocking to think Canada’s citizens are not widely in favor of their newly established industry. It's possible that the data will look different after the system has been in place and functioning for a few months.

Public Opinion of Marijuana Internationally

Canada is paving the path for international marijuana reform, and it's remarkable watching the global changes taking place. Even South Africa recently legalized the private use of cannabis. Their courts ruled it was unconstitutional to criminalize marijuana. Marijuana reform is also making waves in Thailand as they hope to become the first Asian Country to legalize medical marijuana. The public opinion of pot is not only changing here in North America, but it seems like more and more countries are opening their minds to the plant.

Stay updated on all medical and recreational marijuana reform, here!


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Justice Council
Justice Council is a freelance writer, CBD specialist, and cannabis enthusiast located in Denver, Colorado. His wide range of experience as a budtender, delivery driver, and CBD sales rep has given him a unique look into this new world of cannabis. Throughout his career in the industry, Justice has written many pieces on culture, economics, product knowledge, and career opportunities within the cannabis space. He takes pride in being part of a truly pioneering industry.