Half of Americans have tried cannabis, Gallup reveals

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Gather around! It’s that time of the year again: the Gallup Consumption Habits survey is live. This year cannabis continues trending upward. And these survey results come only a few months after a normalizing American Psychiatric Association (APA) survey on the topic.

In the APA results, people in the country believe that cannabis is safer than vaping, opioids, alcohol, and technology. This makes sense because, according to Gallup, over 50 percent of Americans across all genders, education levels, and ages now admit to having tried cannabis at some point.

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Cannabis experimentation trends up

At 50 percent, the number of Americans who said they have tried cannabis is the highest it has ever been though the percentage has been teetering around 50 percent for a few years. In 2021, 49 percent of Americans reported having tried cannabis. Positive responses jumped by five points this year from 45 percent in 2017.

Cannabis has been striving toward normalization for what feels like eons, and the history of the Gallup Consumption Habits survey shows how far it’s come. In 1969, just three percent of respondents said they had tried cannabis. But that number jumped to 24 percent by 1977. Positive responses grew again until 1985 when they stalled at around 40 percent. The number of canna-curious Americans stayed at 40 percent until 2015. It has been slowly trending up since then.

Consumer segments are growing

Gallup also asked respondents whether they “smoke marijuana” to gauge active and/or regular consumers. The firm began asking this question in 2013. At the time only seven percent identified as consumers.

According to this year’s survey results, about one in six Americans now consumes cannabis regularly (17 percent). This is up one point from the 2022 results and more than double the cohort response of 2013.

Current use is most common among adults aged 18-34, with the 35-54 bracket coming in second. Gen Z and younger Millennials are three times more likely to be regular consumers compared to those 55 and up.

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Only seven percent of people 55 and older reported smoking cannabis. This number may be skewed by how the question was asked, however. The survey asked if people were smokers, many older adults consume cannabis via methods with less pulmonary risk.

When it comes to political affiliation, registered Democrats were more likely to have tried cannabis and to be current smokers. According to Gallup, 21 percent of Democrats consume cannabis compared to 12 percent of Republican respondents, even while 68 percent of Republicans support legalization.

Results based on gender showed no relevant difference, though the survey viewed gender in the binary, which could also skew results. As for education, adults with a college degree were half as likely to light up as those who didn’t.

Concern for youth consumption holds steady

For adult use, 32 percent of those who answered were “not too” concerned, and 23 percent were “not at all concerned.” But that changes when teens and young adults are brought into the mix. Three in four Americans are concerned about whether cannabis is safe for young adults and teens who consume it regularly.

This marks the first year more than half of Americans are on the record trying cannabis. The recently reported Gallup results are a monumental step towards normalizing safe, legal cannabis consumption. Though concern for regular teen use persists, more Americans than ever are seeing what the plant has to offer—and that alone is a win across the board.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.