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Marijuana Views Linked to Ideology, Religiosity, Age

Marijuana Views Linked to Ideology, Religiosity, Age

Story Highlights

  • 68% of U.S. adults favor legalizing marijuana, tied for record high
  • Liberal, younger, less religious are most supportive
  • Only 32% of conservatives aged 65 and older are in favor

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' support for marijuana legalization remains at the record-high 68% recorded each of the past two years.


When Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana in 1969, 12% of Americans were in favor. Support grew from there, reaching 31% in 2000 and surpassing the majority level in 2013. Since 2016, at least six in 10 have been in favor.

The latest results are based on an Oct. 3-20 Gallup poll.

Majorities in Nearly All Subgroups Favor Legal Marijuana Use

Combining data for the past five years, from 2018 through 2022, allows for a more robust analysis of demographic differences in views about marijuana legalization than is possible from a single poll. Using this aggregate, Gallup finds support for legalization averaged 67% among the general population but varied significantly by subgroup. Conservative, religious and older Americans are the least supportive, while liberal, nonreligious and younger Americans are the most supportive.

Specifically, subgroups whose support for legalization exceeds the national average by 10 or more percentage points include those with no religious preference (89%), self-identified liberals (84%), Democrats (81%), young adults (79%) and those who seldom or never attend religious services (78%).

Groups whose support is at least 10 points below the national average include those who attend church weekly (46%), conservatives (49%), Republicans (51%), older adults (53%) and Hispanic adults (56%).


A statistical analysis that takes into account the influence of multiple respondent characteristics simultaneously confirms that ideology, religiosity, age and party identification are the most important predictors of marijuana attitudes. The model indicates that ideology is slightly more influential than the other variables.

After controlling for the effects of other respondent characteristics such as gender, age and education, political liberals are about three times more likely, on average, than political conservatives to support legalizing marijuana. Similarly, younger adults, Democrats, those who seldom or never attend church and those without a religious preference are slightly less than 2.5 times more likely to say marijuana should be legal than older adults, Republicans, weekly churchgoers and those with a religious preference, respectively.

The analysis also indicates that educational attainment and the region of the country where one lives do not have meaningful relationships with marijuana attitudes.

Older Conservatives' Support for Legalization Less Than Half National Average

Given the importance of ideology and age in predicting individuals' support for marijuana legalization, ideological subgroups of different ages show some of the largest intergroup differences in attitudes.

At every age level, conservatives are less likely than moderates or liberals to support making marijuana legal. However, majorities of younger conservatives (those under age 50) favor legalization, compared with 32% of older conservatives.

Age differences among political moderates are more modest, with 20 points separating the oldest (62%) and youngest (82%) moderates. That contrasts with a 33-point gap between the oldest and youngest conservatives. Liberals, on the other hand, show similarly high support -- 81% or higher -- regardless of age.


Bottom Line

Americans have grown much more supportive of legalizing marijuana over the past two decades, but support appears to be leveling off for now, not showing any change in the past three years.

While majorities of most major subgroups are in favor of legalizing marijuana, there are a few holdouts -- namely, political conservatives and regular churchgoers. Small segments of the population (in particular, older conservatives) are still disinclined to think marijuana use should be legal. However, younger conservatives and younger moderates are more inclined than their older counterparts to think cannabis should be legal. As such, in future decades support for legalizing marijuana can be expected to continue to grow as newer, likely more pro-marijuana, generations replace older generations in the U.S. population.

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