Out of the Shadows - Cannabis is No Longer Hush-Hush in America
At the time of writing, 33 states have implemented medical cannabis programs and 12 U.S. states have legalized cannabis for recreational or adult use. It is safe to say that cannabis is now more widely accepted in the United States than it has been in the previous 90 years. Now, with our Canadian neighbors having fully legalized cannabis and our Mexican neighbors finalizing their guidelines for medical cannabis legalization, could the U.S. be next in line for some major progress in terms of cannabis legalization?
Cannabis is easily considered “mainstream” these days. The weed-lover culture is not only represented and accepted across media, but it is done so in a manner that is fairer than in the past. Sure, there are still “Cheech and Chong” stoner stereotypes that pop up from time to time in film and television, but now, most “stoners” are portrayed as, well, normal people like everyone else.
Outside of the portrayal of fictional characters, channel-surfers and social media addicts alike are being exposed to stories detailing new cannabis research studies and scientifically backed facts. Notable publications like the Washington Post and Esquire frequently feature pro-cannabis editorial pieces. Major polling centers now take cannabis seriously. They routinely conduct studies to determine America’s views on marijuana legalization and the archaic and often systemically racist laws prohibiting its use. In fact, a 2019 poll by the Pew Research Center showed that over two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization. Moves like these have served as a means for cannabis to emerge from the shadows and onto a public platform.
Cannabis has not only seen a wealth of information emerge but also availability. This newfound abundance of knowledge and in many cases, legalization, has led to trying cannabis for the first time increasingly showing up on the average person’s radar. With the days of “Reefer Madness” fading as quickly as that “D.A.R.E.” t-shirt in the back of your closet, we have entered the new era of evidence-based cannabis culture….and we’ve got the facts to prove it!
A poll conducted by Yahoo News and the Marist Poll group surveyed a group of 1,122 adults living in the United States regarding their cannabis use. The population of each area was proportionally represented in the survey. Conducted by phone, the participants were asked a variety of questions on their opinion and personal use of…you guessed it…cannabis!
The results of the survey probably won’t surprise you. Of those questioned, 583 or 52% of adults living in the United States responded that they have used cannabis at some point in their lives! In addition, 44% of those who admitted to having tried weed also stated that they still use cannabis. The survey officially reports 22% of adults in the United States as “cannabis users”. That’s almost 55 million people! Out of that number, 63% use cannabis regularly. That brings us to a total of 14% of the U.S. adult population smoking on the reg! (See what we did there!?)
Furthermore, the survey showed that 81% of U.S. citizens agree that medical cannabis should be legalized and out of those who are canna-consumers, 94% approve legalization. Even more shocking (though, not really when you think about it) respondents who frequently consume cannabis, an astounding 98% support legalization. These results express a huge support base for medical cannabis legislation reform. Although an anecdotal thought, these results could also support evidence of the effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine. Citizens across the nation are noticing the benefits and responding with whole-hearted support.
As if these survey results weren’t enough evidence that America is ready for federal legalization, the survey revealed some additional statistics about our love for the green. Of the individuals who said that they consume cannabis:
- 55% were male and 45% were female
- 54% were parents
- 52% were millennials
- 54% make less than $50,000 annually
- 53% consider themselves “liberal”
- 43% were democrats, 42% independent and 14% republican
One thing to keep in mind when analyzing the results of this survey or ones like it is that many people may still be apprehensive about revealing that they consume cannabis or in some cases, that they even support it. In an age of data harvesting and privacy concerns, it is understandable that some people may not want to admit to something that is still, unfortunately, federally illegal.
The Future of Cannabis
Outside of the undeniable fact that more Americans are jumping on the cannabis bandwagon daily, surveys like these show a steady decline of negative views regarding adult cannabis use. After nearly a century of fighting ridiculous stereotypes, people are finally beginning to be able to use their preferred medication or recreational substance without the fear of life-ruining prison sentences, at least in the majority of states.
Dialing back restrictions on the study of cannabis has been incredibly positive as well (though we still have a long way to go). Scientists are rapidly growing their databases with supporting evidence to show that cannabis is a positive substance that can be used for healing and health, instead of being wrongly accused of being a “gateway drug”.
Think about it…94% of the almost 55 million American citizens who have tried cannabis believe that it should be legalized in some capacity. This statistic will almost certainly increase as more and more states legalize this plant. The future of cannabis is bright and will hopefully only become brighter as the years progress. Weed has been treated like medicine for thousands of years, and it looks like people are beginning to come back around to this fact.
You’re probably asking yourself, “what can I do to help”? We hate to sound like we’re beating a dead horse with a broken record, but the largest impact that you can make is having your voice heard by voting! Not just once every 4 years, but you should get out there and vote during even the smallest local elections. If you feel like that isn’t enough, become an advocate in your community. Organizations like SSDP offer great resources for individuals who want to contribute to the reform of antiquated laws that criminalize a naturally occurring plant. Get out there and be kind but be heard!
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