Public opinion is lining up behind cannabis, according to a new poll of 1,007 people by POLITICO and Harvard University. Only 20 percent of U.S. residents told researchers that they believe marijuana is very harmful to users. Perhaps even more surprising, half of respondents said alcohol is “very harmful,” a full 52 percent said the same of e-cigs, and 80 percent gave analog cigarettes the “very harmful” classification.
“Ten years ago, we were jailing people for marijuana,” said Robert Blendon, a Harvard professor who administered the poll. “Now people see this as not essentially very harmful.”
The poll was conducted in early October by the website POLITICO and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. POLITICO concluded that the study’s timeline suggests the recent wave of vaping-related lung injuries has not hurt cannabis’ reputation significantly.
Despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 80 percent of the vaping products had been used by lung injury victims, political response has largely been focused on e-cigarettes, and more specifically the flavored products that many say are contributing to the skyrocketing rates of teen vape use.
Changing Views Of Cannabis
Perhaps this trend of more amenable views towards cannabis has to do with a rising familiarity with the drug itself. 11 states and the District of Columbia now have legal weed. When you include the total that have regulated some form of medicinal cannabis, that number rises to 33 states. And not surprisingly, the spread in availability is coinciding with an uptick in marijuana usage.
In July, Gallup published a poll that found almost as many U.S. residents had smoked marijuana over the previous week as a cigarette. That same study found that cigarette use had plunged to its lowest rates in 75 years.
Support for marijuana legalization in the United States, as we all know, is on the rise. In 2009, just 44 percent of U.S. residents supported regulating cannabis. But surveys conducted this year have found that the number has risen. In March, the General Social Survey found that 61 percent of respondents were in favor of cannabis regulation.
The poll shows that a divide still exists between Democrats and Republicans on the issue, though it may not be as large as you think. A full 45 percent of Republicans are on board with cannabis legalization, a number that rises to 73 percent when Republicans were asked whether CBD products should be readily available in drugstores.
Half of the survey participants said that they were familiar with CBD, but of those, few were concerned about its effects—only five percent, compared to eight percent of total respondents.
Indeed, it would appear that CBD, a relatively new cannabinoid to hit retail markets, has gotten the green light from U.S. residents. A full 13 percent of both Republicans and Democrats said that they use CBD products, an assertion that seems apt given the products’ availability everywhere from mall stores to gas stations.