A New High: Nearly Half of All American Adults Have Tried Marijuana

Polling shows it is common to give marijuana a try but uncommon to make it a regular thing.
Guest Writer

About 45 percent of adults in the United States have tried marijuana, a new high mark when it comes to cannabis use.

The new numbers come for a Gallup poll conducted and released in July. The poll found far fewer people currently use marijuana than have tried it. Also, those with incomes higher than $75,000 per year were slightly more likely to have tried marijuana.

The number of those saying they have tried marijuana is the highest since Gallup first asked the question in a 1969 survey. In that year, only 4 percent said they had tried cannabis. Gallup noted that the rise in use over the past five decades has paralleled the increasing support for legalization of marijuana.

Related: Marijuana Recommendations From Federal Crime Task Force Expected Soon

Increased use over the years.

The number of U.S. residents who say they have tried marijuana has steadily increased since the late 1960s, according to Gallup. The 4 percent number from 1969 jumped to 24 percent by the late 1970s. By the late 1990s, the number had reached 34 percent, and then 38 percent by earlier this decade.

Of course, marijuana was illegal across the country before California legalized medical marijuana in the mid-1990s. Now, 29 states have legalized medical marijuana and eight have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana.

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, a fact noted by Gallup. The survey company said that the increase comes “amid a possible federal crackdown on legal marijuana.” A federal task force, created by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is exploring the path forward for marijuana law enforcement and is expected to release a report soon.

Related: NBA Champion John Salley Talks About the 'Seed to Sale' Process for Cannabis Business

Other findings.

The survey also reported that 12 percent of U.S. residents surveyed said they routinely use marijuana. That’s clearly much less than those who say they have tried it, but double the number who said they regularly use it in the 2013 Gallup survey.

Gallup also broke down the survey by various demographics. Those included the following:

  • 48 percent of men say they have tried marijuana, 13 percent said they currently use marijuana.
  • 35 percent of women say they have tried marijuana, 7 percent said they currently use marijuana.
  • The age groups with the highest percentage who say they have tried marijuana were those 30 to 49 (51 percent) and those 50 to 64 (49 percent).
  • Of those with an income of $75,000 or more per year, 44 percent said they had tried marijuana. That’s slightly higher than those with incomes between $30,000 and $74,999 and those with incomes below $30,000. In those two income categories, 42 percent said they had tried marijuana.

Despite the threat of a possible federal crackdown on legalized marijuana, Gallup concluded that the numbers show legal cannabis “is taking hold in American society.”

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