1 in 6 Americans are smoking marijuana these days, a new high in the latest Gallup poll, which highlights how the times are rapidly changing. Only 1 in 8 Americans were toking last year, and that drops down to 7% of the population when going back to 2013. The trend has picked up as recreational use of cannabis becomes legal in nearly half of all U.S. states (with 38 states approving it for medical purposes), supported by shifting attitudes and cultural trends of the American public.
Putting it in perspective: Nearly a third of adult respondents under the age of 35 told Gallup that they smoke marijuana, while nearly half (a total of 48%) of Americans have tried pot at some point in their lifetime. That's up from 4% of the U.S. population that took a hit during the height of the hippie movement in 1969, 24% by 1977, 33% in 1985 and 38% in 2013. Another interesting find is that regular cannabis usage has surpassed cigarette use for the first time, with only 11% of Americans saying they smoke stoges in the poll conducted in July.
"The future of marijuana use is, I would say, somewhat up in the air, but the probability is higher that its use will increase rather than decrease," wrote Gallup Senior Scientist Dr. Frank Newport. "Those who have tried marijuana are particularly likely to say marijuana has positive effects, and the majority of Americans are not convinced that marijuana use is harmful either for its users or for society. In contrast, it should be noted, some authorities argue that marijuana is quite dangerous, particularly for young adults, and it is possible that attitudes toward its use could change if focus on the downsides of marijuana increases in the years ahead."
Legislative front: While Congress is looking to advance cannabis legislation at the federal level, there are still some strong headwinds to the measures being pitched on Capitol Hill. In July, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act was introduced in the Senate to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I controlled substances, but there are slim odds that the bill will pass. Back in April, the House also passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act - which would expunge prior marijuana convictions and conduct resentencing hearings - though the measure still needs approval in the Senate.
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