These days with legal weed under attack and the White House and Cabinet wielding blatantly misleading and erroneous information to justify draconian measures—as in stoking up the War on Drugs—it is essential that we all beef up our arsenal of knowledge.
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog recently provided us with 11 charts showing that we are not alone and that weed in America has “truly gone mainstream.”
Let’s break it down:
1. Lots of People Are Using Pot
More than half of American adults have tried pot and nearly 55 million, or 22 percent, are still using it. Last month’s Yahoo News/Marist Poll shows how pot has become a part of everyday life in America with nearly as many pot users as there are cigarette smokers (59 million). Parents, the poll suggests, put weed at the bottom of a list of concerns for their children—below cigarettes, alcohol, sex and cheating on a test.
2. Support for Recreational Marijuana May Not Be as Robust as It Seems
Public opinion surveys show that support for legalization hovers at around 60 percent, although most of those surveys don’t ask respondents what, exactly, legal marijuana means to them; they just ask whether marijuana should be legal or not.
Although it is worth noting that the Yahoo/Marist survey asked about medical and recreational marijuana separately; 83 percent of Americans said they supported medical marijuana while recreational support was closer: 49 percent for; 47 percent against.
3. People Who Have Tried Marijuana Are Much More Approving of It Than Those Who Haven’t
Prior marijuana use is one of the biggest predictors of support for legalization. Seventy percent of folks who’ve tried it at least once support legalizing recreational weed. Only 26 percent of those who haven’t tried it say the same.
Basically, people who have tried it, think it should be legal. Hence, as it becomes legal in more states, more people will try it, garnering more support for legalization.
4. Most Americans Think Smoking Weed Is ‘Socially Acceptable’
Regardless of whether they support legalization or use it themselves, 56 percent of Americans say marijuana is “socially acceptable,” compared to 42 percent who say it isn’t. Again, there’s a big split here between people who’ve tried it (74 percent say it’s acceptable) and people who haven’t (37 percent).
5. Americans Say Weed Is Less Risky Than Tobacco, Alcohol or Painkillers
By a margin of 72 percent to 20 percent, Americans say that regular alcohol use is more of a health risk than regular marijuana use. The margins for tobacco (76 to 18) and prescription painkillers (67 to 20) are similar.
6. Marijuana’s Legal Status Is Not a Huge Barrier to Use
Asked why they don’t use pot, 27 percent of those who abstain say because it’s illegal. But the rest pointed to a host of other reasons, ranging from not liking it, thinking it’s not healthy and/or it might interfere with work or school. Others simply had no desire to use it.
7. Most Marijuana Users Are Millennials
Fully 52 percent of the country’s 55 million pot users are millennials. Wow.
Only 14 percent of those current users are Republicans, and over two-thirds say they supported Hillary Clinton.
8. Few People Want to Admit They Use Marijuana Just for Fun
Only 16 percent of smokers said they do it “just to have fun.” The rest cited a variety of reasons: 37 percent to relax; 19 percent to relieve pain; 10 percent said it helps them be social. Strange.
As the Post pointed out, if there’s any group in society who do something “just to have fun,” you’d think it would be pot smokers but maybe they don’t actually see themselves as stereotypical image of the giggling, spaced out stoner.
9. Where People Hide Their Stashes: Dressers, Fake Cans or Tins, or Locked Containers
Roughly four in 10 marijuana users still hide their stash. Where? Their dressers (20 percent), the most popular, followed by fake cans, containers or books (11 percent), in safes or locked containers (11 percent) and in their closets (8 percent).
Astonishingly, three percent keep their weed in their cars. Not a good idea.
10. More Than Half of Marijuana Users Are Parents
According to Yahoo/Marist, 54 percent of adults who smoke weed are parents, a majority of whom (16 million) have children under 18. Although, 94 percent of the toking parents of underage kids say they’ve never done it in front of their children or shared it with them. This is good as childhood exposure is a huge talking point for legalization opponents.
11. Most People Are Open about Marijuana Use with Their Family and Friends
Ninety-five percent of adult pot users have told their family and close friends. Seventy-two percent have told their parents, and 60 percent have told their kids.
Some families even toke together. Twenty-one percent have either smoked in front of their parents or shared a joint with them. Among older users with adult children, 35 percent have smoked with or in front of their kids.