One of the big questions constantly asked in America, is how does the public view cannabis. A recent Gallup poll sheds light on this issue, highlighting that most people with negative opinions on weed, are the ones who never tried it.
Who has the most negative opinions on weed? Those who never tried it! Cannadelics is an independent news source covering topics in the growing cannabis and psychedelics landscapes of today, for which we put out the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter. Check it out to stay updated, and to get yourself some sweet deals on a variety of products, from vapes and smoking devices, to edibles and cannabinoid compounds including Delta 8 & HHC. We’ve got it all in our ‘best of’ lists, so figure out your perfect products, and enjoy responsibly.
What is Gallup?
If you read the news enough, at some point or another (and probably many times), you’ve heard references to Gallup polls. The results of these polls are fodder for all kinds of articles, on tons of different subjects. But what are Gallup polls? What kind of information do they collect? And how useful are they?
Gallup polls are conducted through Gallup, Inc., a US analytics company out of Washington, DC. This company isn’t new, going back to 1935, and became widely known early on for its array of opinion polls, which are now conducted all over the world. The company changed tack a bit in the 80’s, moving more into business, in order to provide consulting services in management and analytics. Now, the company has evolved even more, with educational consulting, assessment products, and a press unit called Gallup Press. All of these other ventures help fund the polling, for which the company actually loses money.
Gallup Polls are meant to measure the public’s opinions on topics related to politics, social issues, and economics. The company is known for often conducting polls on sensitive topics. Like any polling agency, Gallup is not always precisely right on, but has shown a decent level of accuracy. Gallup conducts its opinion polls by creating random samples using national telephone numbers. This is done by calling phone numbers with a working exchange, as well as unlisted numbers; meaning even people with unlisted numbers are often a part of these polls. These polls come with the limitation that a person must be contacted by phone.
A detraction of any polling measure is that it can’t reach everyone, making whatever random sample it chooses to be representative of a larger population, only as accurate as the people it can get to. Though its polls have shown to have a decent level of accuracy, even the company stipulates that “The chances that Gallup will contact any one person to participate in one of its national telephone polls are extremely small. Even though Gallup conducts countless surveys in the context of national public opinion polling — more than 350,000 each year — that’s a small fraction of the estimated more than 105 million U.S. households.”
The current poll
The Gallup poll we’re talking about today concerns the American public’s opinions on weed; in terms of its effects on society and on individuals. This question has grown in popularity as the country moves in a more progressive direction toward cannabis legalization, with close to half of states already allowing recreational use. So what does this recent poll state in terms of opinions on weed?
When it comes to the most direct view of whether cannabis is good or bad for society at large, it was nearly an even split with 49% saying its positive, and 50% saying its negative; showing that when it comes to overall acceptance, there is still a curb to climb with getting many Americans onboard. This isn’t shocking considering that cannabis has been illegal for decades, and the subject of numerous smear campaigns even today.
On the other hand, when it comes to how the public views how cannabis effects individuals, the positive rating was higher, with 53% saying it has positive effects on users vs 45% that saw its effects on individuals negatively. The numbers are relatively close between the two questions, and could highlight how some who oppose it for society in general, do understand its ability for positive results in individual use.
One of the interesting aspects of this breakdown, is simply who answered positively and who answered negatively. As part of the poll, Gallup defined whether respondents had ever used marijuana in their life, or if they hadn’t. And then looked at the opinions on the same questions, between the two groups.
When looking at it this way, the results come off very different. Of those who have specifically used marijuana (at least once in their lives), 70% believe it’s beneficial for individuals, whereas 29% believe it’s not. As far as how this group sees its effects on society, 66% saw it positively, while 35% saw it negatively. On the other hand, of those who never tried it once in life, only 35% saw it as beneficial to individuals, with a much larger 62% who did not. On a societal level, 27% of never-users thought it could be cool for the population at large, while a huge 72% of this population thought not.
This second part is incredibly interesting, because it shows how experience affects results. That so many who have tried it see it positively, whereas so many who haven’t tried it see it negatively, really says a lot about the subject in general; and how those with negative views are generally not tying their views to their own bad experience, but simply to a lack of experience at all.
As the ‘have used’ group includes anyone who ever tried it, this group likely involves many people who for the most part never actually use it now, which could explain why the positive results are not higher in that group. If it had been posed to just those who used in the last month, the number for acceptance may have been closer to 100%. And on the other hand, for people who never used, (as in, not even one experience), it makes sense for that group to have a more uniformly negative opinion.
I do want to point out one important thing. I’ve never once tried crack, and yet I don’t believe it’s good for people or society. While this might seem similar to the negative opinions of those who haven’t tried weed, I do think there’s a logic aspect that separates these opinions. After all, I have yet to hear of just one story of a person selling their body for a joint, forgoing paying rent to buy an ounce, or losing their jobs and family to hit a dispensary.
Other recent Gallup polls
Gallup conducts polls constantly, and because of this, results from different polls can be compared and contrasted. For example, in November 2021, Gallup performed a poll on opinions for recreational weed. According to this poll, 68% of Americans support legalization. Which makes it odd that the more recent poll indicates only about half of Americans see it as beneficial for society. Does this indicate an issue with Gallup polling measures? Or does it show the ability for Americans to approve of something for other people, that they don’t approve of for themselves? This second thought could be it. In the more recent poll, plenty of people hadn’t tried it, and still saw its potential benefits for both individuals and society.
Another interesting Gallup poll, which has nothing to do with cannabis directly, does perhaps give some insight into how Americans perceive the danger of cannabis vs the danger of alcohol. In this recent Gallup poll from August of 2022, Americans were questioned on their thoughts toward the dangers of alcohol. They weren’t questioned about this in comparison to cannabis, but the data from this survey can be compared to the data from the recent cannabis opinion survey.
For the alcohol poll, Gallup asked the same questions of whether respondents view it positively or negatively for individuals and society as a whole, as well as whether respondents were drinkers or non-drinkers. According to polling results, when it comes to effects on society, no one found it to have very positive results, though 21% of adults thought it had somewhat positive effects. This was in dire contrast to 75% who saw it as somewhat or very negative. In terms of effects on individual drinkers, 27% thought it to have very or somewhat positive effects, whereas 71% saw it as somewhat or very negative.
What about for drinkers and non-drinkers specifically? According to results, 12% of non-drinkers thought it was somewhat positive for society, with 85% seeing it as negative. And 14% thought it was very or somewhat positive for individuals, while 83% saw it as negative. As far as the active drinkers, 26% saw somewhat positive results for society while 71% did not, and 30% saw it as beneficial to drinkers, whereas 65% did not.
These results, when put against the cannabis results, show two things. 1) That both non-drinkers AND drinkers see the dangers of alcohol to both individuals and society. 2) That compared to opinions on cannabis, alcohol is uniformly seen as the more dangerous drug. In this case, it seems to matter less whether someone is an active drinker or not, and that sure says a lot. Plus, when it comes to actually seeing positive benefits, no one thought it was positive for society (though some saw it as somewhat positive), and a total of 3% of both adults in general, and non-drinkers, saw a positive effect on individuals. Weirdly, in the drinkers group, no one saw a very positive benefit to individuals, or society.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of those with negative opinions on weed, have never actually tried it. It certainly says a lot for the fear that exists among that population. What’s weirder is that even with the population understanding the dangers of alcohol, that alcohol continues to be federally legal, more available, and with much less strict regulation. Perhaps the US government should take heed of these polls, and act accordingly.
In terms of US opinions on weed, the population has actually made itself clear in other polls, just not ones conducted by Gallup. Several US states have voted in recreational cannabis by polling measures – even in unexpected states; with up to six more states ready to do the same come November. Regardless of Gallup polls, these ballot measures show that in most states that have asked the question, the answer to whether cannabis is cool enough to be legalized, has been met with a resounding ‘yes’.
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