US Liberals 6 Times More Likely to Smoke Weed Than Conservatives, Poll Reports
A recent Gallup poll found that conservatives, women, older adults, people of color, and residents of Southern states are the least likely to admit to smoking marijuana.
Published on February 3, 2020

Politically liberal Americans are six times more likely to smoke cannabis than their conservative counterparts, and twice as likely to smoke up than moderates, new polling data reports.

Last summer, Gallup conducted its annual Consumption Habits poll, asking Americans whether or not they used marijuana, tobacco, or other drugs. About 12 percent of all respondents said that they smoked pot — a percentage that has remained consistent since 2015. Last week, Gallup released a deeper analysis of their statistics, breaking down the responses by demographics and revealing a more complete picture of the modern American pot smoker.

The poll found that liberals, men, and young adults were the demographics most likely to admit that they smoked pot. Broken down by political ideology, 24 percent of liberals said they smoked marijuana, compared to only 12 percent of moderates and 4 percent of conservatives. Men were also more likely to report smoking weed than women, at 15 percent versus 9 percent.

Cannabis consumption also appears to differ by race. Fourteen percent of white respondents said they smoked pot, compared to only 9 percent of non-whites. These results highlight the cruel irony of cannabis law enforcement, as cops disproportionately enforce prohibition laws against communities of color, while often allowing white weed offenders to get off with citations or small fines.

Younger adults are also more likely to smoke weed, the poll reports. Around 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds admitted to hitting a joint, compared to 11 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds and 12 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds. Only 3 percent of adults over 65-years-old said they smoked weed, but as low as this percentage is, it's a massive increase over previous years. 

A separate federal survey found that 3.7 percent of those over 65-years-old in the review smoked pot in 2017. That’s more than a tenfold increase from the 0.3 percent who said they used pot in 2007.

Americans living in the South are about half as likely to smoke weed as other citizens. The West and East Coasts have the highest percentages of pot smokers, at 16 and 15 percent, respectively. The Midwest is not too far behind, at 13 percent, while only 7 percent of Southerners said they smoked marijuana.

These geographic differences are likely driven by the fact that the American south generally has the most restrictive cannabis laws. A total of 33 US states now allow medical marijuana, but only one of those states, Florida, is in the South (not counting Oklahoma, which could be considered the Midwest). And although activists in Florida and other Southern states are working to draft adult-use ballot initiatives, no Southern state has legalized adult-use cannabis to date.

Even though only around one in ten Americans says that they smoke weed, a much larger percentage of adults want to make cannabis prohibition a thing of the past. Over the past two years, several major recent polls have consistently found that two-thirds of all Americans support nationwide adult-use cannabis legalization.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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