A new survey from Gallup found Americans are split down the middle on the effects of cannabis on society. 

In the new data released last week, Gallup found that 49% of Americans believe cannabis has a generally positive effect on society. That 49% broke down even further with 12% believing marijuana has a very positive effect on society and 37% just thinking it was somewhat positive. On the opposite side of the fence, 31% believe marijuana had a somewhat negative impact on society and 19% believe it to be very negative. 

In last year’s poll, support for legalization reached a record 68%.

Previous Consumers Thought Positively

One of the biggest factors contributing to the survey results was whether someone had consumed cannabis before. About 70% of people who had tried marijuana found its effects on users to be positive. As a group, they tended to view its impact on society in a more positive light, too, at 62%. 

Almost three-quarters of people that have never tried marijuana believe its impacts on society to be negative, at 72%. A majority also believe it to be bad for the consumer, at 62%. 

More Americans than ever, 16%, admitted to Gallup that they smoke marijuana regularly. This was a bump up from the 12% that admitted it last year. The number of Americans that have admitted to smoking marijuana crossed the 40% threshold in 2015, a couple years after the first states legalized cannabis. This year it dipped a pinch to 48%, but that’s still a lot more than the 4% that was willing to admit it when Gallup first asked the question during The Summer of Love in 1969. 

Age Makes a Difference but Not Much Else

Another major factor in opinions is age. The younger the person surveyed, the more likely they were to have a favorable view of marijuana. But once you get past that variable, Gallup found the differences across other kinds of demographics to be modest. 

One factor the report included was education, “Unlike the strong educational relationship seen with tobacco, education is not a great discriminator in people’s use of marijuana. Those with a college degree are about as likely as those with no college education to have ever tried it or to use it currently,” the report read. 

When it came to gender, men were more likely to admit to having used marijuana in the past, at 53% compared to 42% of women. But the numbers were a bit closer when it came to admitting to being a regular user, with 18% of men and 14% of women answering yes. Men and women were pretty much tied on whether they’d tried edibles, too, at 14% of men and 13% of women. 

The Politics of Pot

The political divide also was clear. Just over half of both Democrats and Independents admitted to having previously tried marijuana at 55% and 53%, respectively.  Only 34% of Republicans admitted to having tried marijuana. Only 9% of Republicans admitted to having ever tried an edible, compared to 17% of both Democrats and Independents. 

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