I have been a marijuana consumer for over two decades now. Almost everyone I know has tried marijuana at one point or another in their lives, especially people my age. That’s not to say that everyone I know is public about their current or prior marijuana consumption, but that also doesn’t mean that they are ashamed of it either. Gallup recently conducted a poll which found that 44% of Americans have tried marijuana. Per Gallup:
As Oregon becomes the fourth state to make recreational marijuana use legal, 44% of Americans say they have tried marijuana. This is the highest percentage Gallup has found since it began asking the question in 1969. Back then, a mere 4% admitted to having tried it.
These data are based on a July 8-12 Gallup poll, which came on the heels of the latest victory for pro-marijuana legalization advocates when, on July 1, Oregon joined Colorado, Alaska, Washington and the District of Columbia in making recreational use legal.
Each time Gallup has polled on the question, Americans have become at least marginally more likely to say they have tried smoking pot, including a six-percentage-point increase in the latest poll. The changes over time may reflect either an increase in the percentage who have tried the drug, or an increased willingness to admit to having done so in the past. The latter possibility certainly seems plausible given Americans’ growing support for legalizing marijuana in recent decades.
A separate question asks Americans more directly if they smoke marijuana now. Slightly more than one in 10 Americans (11%) say they do, up from 7% in 2013, although the shift is also within the poll’s margin of error.
In comparison, a separate question in the poll finds 19% of Americans say they smoke cigarettes.
I think the rise in the survey results are due to both more people trying marijuana lately, and more people willing to admit that they have tried marijuana due to changes in social perceptions. For a very long time marijuana was considered to be very taboo, and even talking about it was frowned upon. Now that marijuana legalization is spreading across America with every election, people are more willing to admit that they have done it, and are likely more willing to try marijuana if they haven’t because they don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong with it, nor should they.