Marijuana Use

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In October of 2018, recreational use of marijuana became legal in Canada. What, though, are the attitudes toward the drug among their neighbors to the south? 

This was the focus of recent investigation from the Pew Research Center, as analysts examined Americans’ attitudes toward recreational marijuana use and the various demographic factors that shaped these perceptions. 

In 1969, most Americans opposed marijuana legalization, but over time that figure has shifted. Now, just 34 percent of respondents resist legalization. 

The researchers observed a number of individual differences that influence these trends. Generational effects, for example, are present. Today, just 39 percent of the Silent Generation, people born between 1928 and 1945, support legalization. Millennials, however, hold starkly different opinions, as 74 percent support legalizing marijuana. 

Gender also influences responses, as men are 17 percent more likely than women to support the recreational use of marijuana.

Whites hold the most favorable attitudes among different races, followed by Blacks and Hispanics. In fact, Whites are 38 percent more likely to support legalization than are Hispanics. 

The effects of educational attainment are less clear. People who completed high school or less are least likely to support legalization, but the views do not meaningfully differ among other educational levels. 

Finally, religious beliefs influence attitudes toward legalization. Catholics are most likely to oppose, and the religiously unaffiliated are most supportive. Protestants fall in the middle. 

In the US, 9 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use. As efforts to increase legalization spread, the aforementioned individual differences are likely to shape voters’ attitudes toward the topic.