Pew Survey Marijuana 2015

Pew Research Center has just released their new poll on legalizing marijuana. Conducted March 25-29, 2015 among 1,500 adults, the “new survey finds that 53% favor the legal use of marijuana, while 44% are opposed.  As recently as 2006, just 32% supported marijuana legalization, while nearly twice as many (60%) were opposed.”


This graphs below shows the trend in public support for legal marijuana, overall and by generation. Overall support for legalizing marijuana has gone from 32% in 2006 to 53% in 2015. An overwhelming 68% of Millennials support marijuana legalization, with GenX and Boomers right around 50%.  Across all generations, except the Silent generation, support for legal marijuana has risen sharply over the 5-10 years. The Silent generation’s opposition to legalization almost mirror the Millennials support for it, although even for them, the trend is in favor of supporting it.

Pew Survey Marijuana Support March 2015

People had different reasons for favoring or opposing marijuana legalization. Medical benefits and relative safety of marijuana were cited most often in favor of legalization. For those opposed to legal marijuana, most felt marijuana “hurts society and is bad for individuals“. Interestingly, only 11% of those opposed felt marijuana was a “gateway drug”.

The graph below shows the reasons cited by those surveyed for favoring or opposing legal marijuana.

Pew Survey Marijuana Reasons Favor or Oppose

The survey results quote some survey responses:


Why Should Marijuana Be Legal? Voices of Supporters

Main reason you support legalizing use of marijuana…

“It is not as harmful as alcohol. […] It also helps medical conditions as a more natural substitute to pharmaceuticals.” Female, 46

“My grandson was diagnosed with epilepsy a year ago and it has been proven that it helps with the seizures.” Female, 69

“I think crime would be lower if they legalized marijuana. It would put the drug dealers out of business.” Female, 62

“Because people should be allowed to have control over their body and not have the government intervene in that.” Male, 18

“I think that we would have more control over it by allowing a federal agency to tax and regulate it like alcohol.” Male, 25


Why Should Marijuana Be Illegal? Voices of Opponents

Main reason you oppose legalizing use of marijuana…

“It’s a drug and it has considerable side effects. It should not be used recreationally, only for medicinal use.” Female, 20

“It’s a drug that makes you stupid. It affects your judgment and motor skills and in the long term it makes you lazy.” Male, 52

“It gets too many people on drugs. It would put too many drugs on the street, we don’t need that.” Male, 84

“I’m thinking of my child. I don’t want her to try this. I know it’s not good for her health or brain.” Female, 33

“We have enough addictive things that are already legal. We don’t need another one.” Male, 42


  • More men than women support legal marijuana by a significant margin with only 49% of women favoring vs 57% for men.
  • More Hispanics oppose marijuana legalization (58%) than favor it (40%).  This is reverse of Whites (55% favor vs 42% opposed) and Blacks (58% favor vs 41% opposed).
  • 59% of Democrats favor legalizing the use of marijuana, similar to Independents at 58%. Only 39% of Republicans support marijuana legalization.
  • On enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that allow marijuana use, majority of Americans (59%) feel federal laws SHOULD NOT be enforced in those states.
  • Americans do not want people to use marijuana in public by a margin of 62% to 33%.
  • They are ok with people using it in their own homes by a margin of 82% to 15%.
  • 49% of Americans say they have tried marijuana.

Full Survey can be read here: Pew Research CenterIn Debate Over Legalizing Marijuana, Disagreement Over Drug’s Dangers

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