More Americans are toking up the reefer and passing on nicotine, according to a new poll by Gallup. The 16% now reporting smoking marijuana is the highest Gallup has recorded.
Large majorities of adults who say they have tried marijuana (48% of Americans) think the drug’s effects on users and society at large are positive. Conversely, the majority of those who have never tried marijuana think its effects are negative on society and its effects on users. In other words people who have tried it, think that it’s good for society. People who have never tried it, feel that it’s bad.
Americans’ ambivalence about the effects of marijuana contrasts with their widespread support for legalization. According to Gallup’s latest measure, 68% of U.S. adults, tied for the record high, think marijuana should be legal. The same poll finds three in four adults believing alcohol negatively affects society. 71% think it is harmful to drinkers.
Marijuana and tobacco usage trends have been going in opposite directions for a few decades now. By 1985, nearly as many Americans said they had tried marijuana (33%) as had smoked a cigarette in the past week (35%). Cigarette smoking has been declining ever since. By 2013, 19% of Americans were smoking cigarettes at least once a week. 38% of Americans said they tried marijuana that year.
The trend toward more marijuana smokers is attributed to young people under the age of 35. The National Institutes of Health reported last week that more young adults used marijuana and hallucinogens in 2021 than in any year prior. Nearly a third of adult respondents under 35 admitted to smoking marijuana this year. That is significantly higher than those aged 35-54 (16%) or 55+ (7%).
Smoking tobacco dropped to just 8% of adults under 35 smoking cigarettes at least once a week. A slight raise in percentage in adults 35-54 (10%) and 55+ (14%).