The number of Americans who say they have consumed marijuana at least once has reached a record high. In poll from Gallup released on Wednesday, 45 percent of U.S. adults tried marijuana at some point in their lives. That is the largest percentage since Gallup started asking the question in 1969. Last year, it was 43 percent. When the question was initially asked 48 years ago, only 4 percent answered affirmatively.
There’s also been an increase in the number of American adults who currently consume cannabis. The latest poll results reveal that 12 percent currently use marijuana, up from 7 percent just four years ago.
The rise in use since 1969 has paralleled the increasing support for legalization — last year, 60 percent said marijuana should be legal, also an all-time record. Eight states allow recreational marijuana use, and these states comprise one-fifth of the U.S. population. An additional 29 states have approved medical marijuana programs.
According to Gallup:
The increase in the percentage who have tried [cannabis] comes amid a possible federal crackdown on legal marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has initiated a task force studying links between violent crime and marijuana, and this body will reportedly release its findings by the end of July. The attorney general also has asked congressional leaders to undo restrictions on prosecuting medical marijuana providers, citing a “historic drug epidemic.”
Young adults, men and those with household incomes of less than $30,000 per year are most likely to say they currently smoke marijuana, Gallup reported. Thirteen percent of men say they currently smoke marijuana, compared with 7 percent of women. Eighteen percent of those aged 18 to 29 and 13 percent in the lowest income bracket say they currently smoke marijuana.
Gallup suggests that the percentage of consumers is likely to increase as more states look to modify current laws. The report concludes:
Legality may confer a certain societal acceptance of the drug. Sessions’ hopes to prosecute state-level marijuana crimes may prove to be a hindrance, but it is unlikely this multibillion-dollar industry will be stopped anytime soon.
The poll findings were based on interviews with 1,021 adults ages 18 and older living in all 50 states. The survey was conducted from July 5 to 9.